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en Soapbox Aw. 
Bridges TV I Christian Parents 
Randi Rhodes & Air America 
iq Biogs I Defending our Wipfl 

March/April 2005 • Issue 







Amy G^dman, host of 
Tjemacracy Now! 



Digital Ash in a Digital Urn 

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning 

"Layered over lovely country or electronic-tinged sounds. Conor's hopeful lyrics are small 
reminders of beauty for the existentially downtrodden of this world. I would listen to him. Not 
just his music, but him." — Jane, January 2005 

"...[aj visionary artist who not only [has] the talent and drive to help set the creative agenda in 
pop today but also to influence musicians for years to come. Oberst. ..has an innocence and 
intelligence that enable him to see the world with fresh and fearless eyes. He weaves his findings 
into intimate songs whose melodies are as timeless as a hymnal and whose images are 
hauntingly poetic." — The Los Angeles Times, Robert Hilburn, October 2004 

"...a raw portrait of a 20-something disenchanted with his city, his country and his life. Not sure 
how to evoke change, Oberst does one better — he evokes emotion." 5/5 — Alternative Press. 
February 2005 

"Whatever you may have heard about Bright Eyes... well, just forget about it. Because I'm Wide 
Awake, It's Morning is not only the best record he's ever made, it's quite possibly one of the best 
folk records ever made. And it just may prove to be a classic." — Filter. Winter 2004 

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning - -kieieir-k Q Classic — Q Magazine 








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from your editors 

After five years, you'd think this whole magazine puffin' out thing would get a little easier, 
right? You'd get into a groove, problems would be easier to negotiate, and the damn thing 
would practically start putting itself out after awhile. Maybe if we weren't always upping the 
ante here at Clamor that would be the case, but we're still busting our asses all year long. 
This year, we decided to move our Clamor offices out of the home we share with two dogs and 
a roommate into a space in downtown Toledo. The move ultimately allows us to expand the 
number of things we're able to carry in the Clamor online infoSHOP (www.clamormagazine. 
org/infoSHOP), but for the meantime the move put a huge roadblock in the production sched- 
ule. Happy birthday Clamor ... here's a shitload more work for y'all to do. 

Before we let the griping spoil the birthday party, we have to say that we're pretty ecstatic 
about how this issue came together. We really put the section editors to the test by choosing 
a theme that is also one of the sections in the magazine. It challenged them to come up with 
different interpretations of the concept of media — a challenge that might cost us a couple 
section editors if we try to do it again. But Jen and I started Clamor because we had been en- 
ergized by the power of zine communities and we wanted to take that power and expand on it. 
It seemed to make sense then, that this anniversary issue would focus on media of all sorts. 
So we encouraged Catherine to take the media section and use it as a place for the first-ever 
"Clamor Golden Soapbox Awards" — special nods to people and projects that are chang- 
ing the media landscape. And Brian was able to focus the sex and gender section around 
Chicago's Pilot TV project — a natural fit for this issue and the section. Keidra chose to 
highlight artists remixing mainstream culture in the people section, and Eric invited Samira 
Yamin to discuss art as media and resistance in Palestine in the culture section. Madeleine 
and Amanda appropriately directed our attention to Iraq in the politics section with two pow- 
erful pieces on making media on the ground there — one from American journalist Christian 
Parenti and the other from Iraq blogger "Aunt Najma." Arthur keeps us well-informed of 
economic struggles surrounding ownership of wifi and cable in the economics section. And 
of course Keith separated the wheat from the chaff to deliver you the third installment of 
the new review section — consider it a consumer reports guide to an often-oversaturated 
independent media market. 

So there you have it. Jen and I just sit around and wait for everyone else to do all the work 
at Clamor HQ. We didn't make it this far by working hard, people! Happy 5th birthday to you 
readers who have been here since day one. We've got a lot more in us as long as you'll have 
us. For those of you just joining Clamor, get your subscriptions in now so we can keep doing 
this for another five years! 

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, 

PS: Check out the newkections "uproar " (p. 8) and "HERE" (p. 74) to see how you can have 
your say in Clamor! We'd love to hear from you. 

PPS; The "letters" section has been pre-empted for advertising this issue. Send your letters 
for the next issue to 


Clamor's mission is to provide a media outlet that reflects the reality of alternative politics and culture in a format 
that IS accessible to people from a variety of backgrounds. Clamor exists to fill the voids left by mainstream media. 
We recognize and celebrate the fact that each of us can and should participate in media, politics, and culture. We 
publish writing and art that exemplify the value we place on autonomy, creativity, exploration, and cooperation 
Clamor is an advocate of progressive social change through active creation of political and cultural alternatives 


Number 31 1 March/April 2005 


10 On the Air with Saint Randi by Catherine Komp 

13 Clamor's Golden Soapbox Awards 

1 7 How the News is Made by Catherine Komp, Jessica Azulay, and breakfast 


20 A Star in Mosul compiled by Charu Gupta 
24 Christian Parent! interview by Colhn Yeo 
26 Video Killed the Football Star by Dan Gordon 


30 Down to the Wire by Gwen Shaffer 

33 Fixing Radio by Jonathan Lawson 

36 Demanding More of Cable Monopolies by Barbara J. isenberg 

38 In a Global Village, No One Can Hear You Scream by Norman Ball 


40 The Art of Resistance by Samira Yamin 
43 Walk With Me: Revolutionary Theater in Lockdown by Jeremy Smith 
45 Through Their Own Eyes: Chiapas Media Project by Max Sussman 
47 A Bridge Over Troubled Channels by Lisa A. Haamid 


50 Taking Power from the Past by Raizei Liebier 

53 Programming Independence by Christina Hoheisel and Alex Kerfoot 

55 Paper Street Space Monkeys by Ben Tanzer 

56 Beyondmedia by Alison Parker 


59 PILOT TV by Daniel Tucker and Emily Forman 

60 Queer Media Timeline compiled by Raymond Johnson 

61 Living Proof by James Monteleone 

62 Featured Sex and Gender Media 

64 Glass Toys by Laura Mintz 


67 What We're Talking About... 


74 Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere by Jason Kucsma g- 





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this issue we asked: 

Tell us about the first time you realized the beauty, power, or sheer ingenuity of independent media. 


I was reporting for KPFK, Pacifica's Los Angeles station, when I 
heard about the Independent Media Center organizing around the 2000 
Demoeratie National Convention. This was a group of people truly 
dedicated to the idea of creating an alternative to mainstream, 
corporate-dominated news and willing to take on the almost im- 
possible task of organizing a full blown multimedia news outlet 
covering a major political event with little money and a complete- 
ly volunteer staff. 

The budget was tiny — there were some donations and grants to 
help pay for rent and basics like phone lines, but most of the equip- 
ment was borrowed or donated. 

The IMC managed to rent an entire floor in "Patriotic Hall," a 
building right across from the convention center where the DNC was 
held. The space was stuffed with an amazing array of equipment, in- 
cluding a makeshift television station set up in the main room and 
radio and print news centers in the smaller rooms. 

Several hundred indy reporters arrived and from the very first 
day the action was nonstop. Bike messengers were dispatched to pick 
up audio and video from street reporters all over the city. Reporters 
faced rubber bullets, tear gas. and possible arrest and editors practi- 
cally lived there the whole week, catching cat naps in whatever space 
they could find. 

I'm proud to sa> we ga>e the mainstream media a run for it's 
mone>, as tin\ and temporar> as we were. It was lrul> l)\\ at it's 
Laura /{anther. Los Anodes CA 

Joy Noga planted a seed in my brain that led me to re\el the re\olu- 
tion of everyday life. Joy was my writing instructor at Pittsburg State 
University. Pittsburg. KS. She taught Introduction to Research Writ- 
ing and she brought energy, enthusiasm, and fresh ideas to the class- 
room. Joy was a thought instigator who posed challenging questions 
and protTered new (to me) and interesting resources for supporting 
our writing. Joy often made reference to independent media resourc- 
es, writings published outside the mainstream press, and one of these 
sources (and perhaps not so fringe) was Ulne Reader. Joy explained 
that Utne was a good place to start exploring alternative information 
resources, especially for the unmiiiated. I followed up her suggestion, 
and serendipity led me to pick up the issue that published i'tne's best 
of list, and from that list, I discovered Clamor. From then on, 1 made it 
a point to seek out resources representing these other voices, to reflect 
upon the ditVercnces. to embrace di\ersit\ of ideas. I'nlike mainstream 
media, my relationship with independent media is not one of mindless 
consumption nor passive recipient; neither is it merely a rcinforcer 
of beliefs I already hold. Instead independent media provokes and 
challenges me. it causes me to raise questions, to consider other \ icw- 
points. encourages me to act. to make connections with others, and 
most significantly, it values e\ cry one as a contributor. 
—Jenny Bruenger. Minneapolis MN 

Long before 1 realized that what I was doing was being an independent 
loumalist. I wrote for my own website. I thought I was hot w ith 80 hits 
in (i months. Then. I created a web page about an under-reported is- 

sue I investigate, military and corporate pro- 
grams utilizing aerosolized heavy metal par- 
ticulate, known on the net as "chemtrails." 
The page got picked up by a popular alter- 
native news website, Suddenly, 
thousands of people from all over the world 
were reading this page. I put a hit tracker on 
it and watched the results with amazement. 
Individuals, huge corporate and government 
agencies (some pretty intense), were read- 
ing the page. A few really got my attention, 
like the one from the Executive Office of 
the President of the United States. Immedi- 
ately, the emails started coming in. People, 
hundreds of them from around the globe, 
sharing information, expressing opinion, 
requesting additional information. The 
exchange was incredible. The connections 
through the page grew a grass roots effort, 
with thousands of members, that is still ac- 
tive today. I was in awe of the power of 
a single web page, floating out there in cy- 
berspace, to generate such interaction and 
communication between people who would 
otherwise have never known of each other 
I'm still in awe of it. 

The moral of the story is...put it out 
there. Use the power of independent me- 
dia, YOUR power. Tell the story, the whole 
story. Ask the questions. Report the truth. 
Create the change. Be the media. 
— Lorie Kramer. Houston TX 

well have been sexual frustration that lay be- 
hind my insomnia. 

When 1 moved to the Knoxville area 
later that year, the unforgettable DJ Ashley 
Capps introduced me to John Coltrane's free 
jazz, which absolutely blew my mind. With 
his show "Unhinged," he introduced me to 
Laurie Anderson, Sun Ra, too many new mu- 
sical experiences to mention. Music of the 
Southern Mountains with Paul Campbell was 
a radio show that preserved the bluegrass Ap- 
palachian tradition. "Voices of Protest: Songs 
of Struggle and Discontent," played hours of 
Woodie Guthrie's tunes written to promote 
the Grand Coolie Dam. Alive After Five was 
a live broadcast of local jazz performances at 
the art museum. Unfortunately, the corporate- 
happy program director, Regina Dean, cut all 
this programming in favor of more NPR busi- 
ness news and PRl syndicated crap. 1 never 
bother listening to the radio any more. 

If you care about the future of indepen- 
dent, diverse radio stations, please take a 
minute to write to the FCC (http://www.fcc. 
gov/) and let them know what a bad idea fur- 
ther consolidation is. 

If you don't, you have no excuse to bitch 
about the homogenized crap radio has turned 
into, and the fact that your kids will never 
know the delicious rebellion of independent 
— Erin McLean, Knoxville TN 

My freshman year at Bowling Green State 
University was soaked in cheap beer and 
cigarette smoke, but I remember this clearly: 
I roomed with a skinny Floridian hipster with 
a serious jones for zines. Being an indie rock 
geek from Dayton and former high school 
yearbook nerd, 1 jumped at the chance to start 
one. My roommate turned me onto the dubi- 
ous pleasures of paper cuts, severe glue in- 
halation, and coffee-fueled, late-night layout 
sessions. Our first issue of Polly Your Ethane 
contained ill-advised poetry, political rage 
and a Six Finger Satellite interview. Subse- 
quent issues appeared randomly until the zine 
died and I started up another (Sponiczine. 
com. which has managed to survive for the 
last eight years). 

What most thrills me about zines isn't 
their ability to attract free CDs and concert 
tickets, although that's occasionally nice, (in 
a principled way of course). It's more about 
the insane networking opportunities that a few 
well-chosen words and bit of design acumen 
can attract. I've met so many motivated, in- 
telligent, idea-soaked people over the years 
simply by putting my opinions down and 
paper and distributing them. If it weren't 
for independent publications 1 wouldn't know 
about most of my favorite music, books or 
documentaries of the last few years. And I'd 
probably have fewer good friends. 
— John Wenzel, Denver CO 

I realized that there was such a thing as inde- 
pendent media only by web. The best discov- 
eries have been things like Clamor, Lip and 
the umpteen websites (eg ZNet) that provide 
independent news and analysis. Analysis of 
news and its history is in short supply here. 
The AbC (Ausfralian BC) and SBS, a TV 
station with some government funding, have 
some good offerings. I have even seen people 
like Robert Fisk, Norman Solomon, our own 
John Pilger, and Noam Chomsky on these 
channels (miracles do happen). Anyway, I am 
grateful for these alternatives. 
— Eugene Moreau, Hei-vey Bay, Australia 

I remember in 1 99 1 when 1 was a miserable 
14 year old, 1 discovered college radio and 
it opened up another world to me. My weird 
friends and I could call and request depress- 
ing songs by Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, and 
Nirvana that expressed our adolescent trou- 
bles, and the DJ would actually play them. 
I was introduced to the Replacements. Pix- 
ies, the Dead Kennedys, the Dead Milkmen, 
Siouxsie and the Banshees, and many other 
classic college radio bands whose awesome 
talent, ingenuity, and irreverence changed 
my worldview forever. I remember calling 
the late-night DJ with a request and a com- 
plaint of insomnia and being told (in an edu- 
cational, non-creepy way) that it may very 

It's 1995. I'm seventeen, living with a punk- 
rock violin player and her huge dog in Alphabet 
City, eating lots of Cream of Wheat and pow- 
dered hot chocolate because that's about all my 
minimum-wage, indie-bookstore job allows 
(that is, after I pay way too much rent for my 
half of a tiny single). One of the perks of the 
bookstore job is that I get to borrow books for 
free, so one night I take home Hillary Carlip's 
Girl Power. Young Women Speak Out. Reading 
the Riot Grrrl section. I find myself staring, 
stunned, at all these lines that tell me I'm not 
alone, not crazj...that, in fact, 1 might be right 
in suspecting there's a larger social/cultural 
something that wants me to feel alone and crazy, 
and that I can resist it. And then I realize that all 
these lines were previously published in zines 
— handmade, inspired, urgent little bundles of 
words typed fast and stapled together and sent 
all over the world. 1 started sending notes to 
Riot Grrrl zinemakers right away, trading dollar 
bills for their zines and mix tapes and stickers. 
Within six months I had written, assembled, and 
distributed the one and only issue of my first, 
very personal zine. It was rather young, yes; 
also rather melodramatic and over-stylized and 
other embarrassing things. But it was complete- 
ly necessary — to get some stuff off my chest 
and to offer something back to the global com- 
munity of feminist zinemakers that had done so 
much, in those few months, for me. 
— Jessica Hojfmann, Los Angeles CA 

I really got away from the underground for 
the longest time. It seemed like [it] had van- 
ished! I got married (twice!) and now we 
have two wonderful children. Then 1 read an 
article in the Progressive — they interviewed 
Noel Ignatiev. His profound ideas about abo- 
lition blew me away. Shortly thereafter, I sent 
for a copy of Fred Woodworth's The Match! 
Then I went nuts and ordered as many zines 
from around the world as I could get my 
hands on. I now also produce dozens of zines 
that 1 make, insanely, free to prisoners. 
— Anthony Rayson, Chicago IL 

next issue: 

For the "Break from 
Tradition" issue, tell us 
about the new traditions 
you've created for yourself 
and your friends. 

Send your UPROAR stories (250 words or 
less) to by 
April 1,2005 




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'T^'-',"? V y<^J* '^,ti 

on the air 



Saint Rdhdi 

Influential, intefligent, quick-witted. Goddess, rock star, saint. Those are 
just a few of tiie words fans use to describe Randi Rhodes, the seasoned, 
sharp-tongued hberal talk radio host whose eponymous daily program 
went national last year with the launch of Air America Radio. The former 
Air Force member, waitress, truck driver, and radio DJ built a strong fol- 
lowing for her program in Palm Beach, Florida, consistently beating out 
Rush Limbaugh in the ratings. Returning to her native New York last 
year, Rhodes is now heard by millions and continues to attract one of the 
most diverse audiences in broadcasting. Even the vitriol of her detrac- 
tors — and there are many of those too — is an indication of Rhodes's 
growing presence on the airwaves and in the public discourse. The Randi 
Rhodes Show offers plenty of informed analysis and opinion, comple- 
mented by a healthy dose of playfulness and humor. But the program is 
clearly distinguished by Rhodes's passion for people, coupled with her 
strong convictions in holding everyone accountable for their words and 
actions — politicians, high profile guests, callers, progressives, and fel- 
low goddesses alike. 

interview by Catherine Komp 

Clamor: Why do you love radio? 

Rhodes: 1 don't love radio. It's the only 
thing I know how to do. But it is very per- 
sonal, and 1 love that 1 get you all to my- 
self when you are listening. 

You 've been on nulionally with Air Amer- 
ica for almost a year now. What do you 
think the Randi Rhodes Show has accom- 

I think we've made people feel sane. Half 
of the country hadn't heard their own 
views represented in media. I hear the 
"You make me feel sane" comment more 
than any other. 1 think we've also identified 
a new market place for the 2 1 st Century. A 
way to let the entrenched power know that 
someone was watching now. That the days 
of propaganda radio were coming to a 
close and you had better check your facts 
in the morning, not your talking points. I 
do love exposing all of their lies and hy- 
pocrisy. Their bumper sticker approach to 
the people of this country. No one able to 
speak truth to their power. I think they're 
feeling it already. 




You have such a captivating style and tone, 
that ranges dramatically throughout your 
four-hour show, from laughter and singing, 
to joking and impersonations, to despair and 
anger, to genuine empathy and love. I 've even 
heard you ciy on the air And unlike many 
hosts who have a carefully crafted "person- 
ality, " you seem to just be yourself. Do you 
think this is one of your strengths and why so 
many people tune in? 

I don't know any other way, so I can't really 
say. There arc radio "actors" out there, and 
they are respected and loved, but for the life 
of me I don't understand it. Conservatives all 
do the same show every day. It's hard to tell 
who means what they say, and who is doing 
it because it is so easy to get your voice out 
there if you just became part of the Repub- 
lican echo chamber. I can't really say why 
people believe the unbelievable, but some 
do. Sometimes I think that people accept the 
conservative crap because if they agree that 
America is going down a bad road, they may 
have to actually DO something, and that cuts 
into their TV time. But I hope that people get 
that I really care about them and that I have 
very serious concerns about our country and 
the troops. 

Describe one of your favorite interviews or 

Oliver North, lie was pure evil, and he lied. 
1 caught him and called him out in under 10 
minutes. It was scary because he is an effort- 
less liar. But he walked out in the middle of 
the segment screaming at me, "I got shot. Did 
you?" That's a real leader, don't ya think? I 
loved exposing him. 

Do you have some radio idols or mentors? 

Neil Rogers is a real talent. He's on in Miami. 
He's the Godfather of Entertainment Talk 
Radio. Also, I love Phil Hendrie. Completely 
unique and unbelievably funny. 1 learned a lot 
from Neil, and I listen to Phil whenever I can. 

Clamor readers are well informed about the 
negative impact of media con.solidation on 
what most Americans read and hear What do 
you suggest is an effective course of media 
activism over the next few years? 

Lobby the shit out of Congress. Call, 
write (keep it brief). Tell them you don't think 
that Corporate Ownership of the media — 
having all the power of the media in basically 
six people's hands is good for this country. 
.Also let the media know that you think they're 
loo chicken to write hard stories 

Hlog. write, or call any show that w ill lei 
you on. Ask them where the news is. Where 
are the pictures of our troops' Where arc the 

pictures of the happy Iraqis? Why is there no 
dialog between the U.S. and the people we 
"liberated?" Where is the money going? What 
happened to the stolen oil revenues? Why 
didn't we provide the Iraqis security, running 
water, and electricity? If we had done these 
things, would the Iraqis [have] supported this 
insurgency? Ask them if they are better otT 
today [than] they were before we attacked. 

Then there's Afghanistan. Where is 
Osama Bin Laden? Show us the progress in 
Afghanistan. Do real hour-long news specials 
about these two wars we are in. 

Otherwise, I guess we'll start making 
more movies. Some of the movies that got made 
like Fahrenheit 9/11 made real inroads with 
regard to showing people what's really going 
on. Some movies were made too quickly and 
didn't have the story telling quite down. But 
we'll get better at it and make more. 

For my part, I must succeed in the rat- 
ings. If I do, there will be no denying me 
more and more access to markets. 

What do you think the alternative media land- 
scape is missing? 

Distribution! Original programming. Real 
moral passion and entertainment. That's my 
definition of art. Some people are very smart 
but you end up feeling like you're listening to 
your favorite history teacher. Others rely on 
guests to carry the day. I like to make people 
laugh first to let them know I'm an ok girl. 
It's all so hard, but you have to laugh about 
it and in doing the comedy I find some real 
solutions, too. 

We are talking about life and death is- 
sues for people just hanging on by their fin- 
gernails. Life and death for our troops e\er>' 
day. I love to give at least one moment each 
hour that makes people hit themselves in the 
head and say, "Wow, that's so simple.. .Why 
didn't I think of that." Soon they will start 
thinking like that. 

What do you think is the biggest threat to di- 
versity in media? 

Deregulation. The fewer number of owners 
of the media, the less voices you will hear. 
American isn't a one-way street, you know. 

Air America has .some strong female voices, 
including yourself. Laura Flanders. Janeane 
Garofalo, Liz: Winstead, and Katharine Lan- 
phur Additionally. I notice that many of your 
callers are women. Do ytni see the ainuives 
in general as a medium that's diversif}ing. 
and becoming more inclusive of women and 
people of color? 

You know I was told at the beginning of m\ 
career that "You will NEVER get women to 

listen to talk radio." When thev said "nc\er" 

I thought, ok then, let's talk to women. The 
trick is to talk to women but never alienate 
men. Otherwise, you end up unmarried and 
alone, in NY, during the Holidays and (Oh... 
wait, 1 digress). 

Seriously. I think Im the first political 
talk show host to attract women listeners. 
Women have been called every name in the 
book by conservatives. From murderers to 
Nazis. Why would they feel comfortable lis- 
tening to talk radio? 1 know women. My best 
friends are women, and they are the backbone 
of the American family. When the shit hits 
the fan. it's usually the woman who raises the 
kids, makes bills, and nurtures all. I've known 
lots of great men too. But you have to admit, 
there are more single moms than dads, and no 
one was talking to them, telling them. "I hear 
the baby, go breast feed." 

I've let men know 1 adore them, and I 
do, but that women are just amazing crea- 
tures. We bring home the bacon, fr>' it up in 
the pan. and then wear it as pasties! 

People of color have alw ays allied with 
me. Maybe because I was a minority voice or 
because they felt that I was being held back 
because I was liberal and a woman and thc_\ 
got it. I have a bond w ith my listeners that I 
can't explain but I know is real. 

During the first few months of Air .America, 
many people were an.xious to talk about its 
imminent demise. A year later you ve grown 
rapidly and are on more than 40 affiliates. I 
have a Vwo-part question. First, what do you 
have to say to those doomsayers. and where 
do you think .Air America is going? 

Knowing what they were saying even BE- 
FORE we launched, it was no surprise that 
they would talk us down. Now I think they 
see w hat you and 1 see. and I think they know 
their gravy train just ended. And ft^nkly, the 
only people w ho are in radio are people who 
can't do anything else. They are scared and 
vicious and that's a bad combination if you're 
an "Air American." We took all their liberal 
listeners and we attract a good chunk of their 
conser\ati\e listeners who know something 
is wrong w ith this president's leadership. 

Here's your bonus question. If theiv was a 
Randi Rhodes Show trivia game, what would 
be the most difficult question to answer? 

^ou know. I think people know every- 
thing about me. my fanuly. my friends, my 
dogs. (Actually. I'm down to one dog these 
days.) So. I'd go with: 

Q. What's the name of Randi's fibroid? 
A. Bob -A- 

l.isun It) RainU weekdays from 3pm-7pm EST on 

Mr Aiiii-ricti RiiJio (.iinmicricurodio com) 


■||^l|^pVMP^ ^^B .i^fl^^^FV Working in independent media often 

^^H^ ^Sm ^^^^^^^^ entails late nights, backaches, too 

PmBi J^l^^^^^^ ^^^^ coffee, low or no pay, and the 

^' ' l^^^^^^BH endless frustration of challenging the 

corporate media monsters. Despite all 
this, countless alternative sources of 
media continue to persevere, and with 
the accessibility of new technology, 
many new ones are forming. To recog- 
nize the tireless, essential, and excep- 
.^^^_^^_ ^^^^ tional work of our allies in independent 
^ ^Hj^^H^^^ ^^^1 media, Clamor is proud to present the 
Golden Soapbox Awards. Considering 

^'' ^^^_ ^ ^^^^^^^ there, we could have filled an entire is- 

sue with nominations. What follows are 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ some of the most outstanding people, 

'« 1 1 1 1 1 1 r I ■^^^H^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H projects, and organizations filling the 

A ^% I ^\ f |k I ^ ^% A ^\ ^\ ^\ \M void in the media landscape. We give 

1^ III III 111 ^ I I U Wi um I I A fhem our gratitude, praise, and sup- 

UULULIl OUftrUUA port, and hope you do too. 


above: Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman interviews Haitian President 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide after he was forced from office into exile. 


Best Independent News Site Best News Digest tirst trip there and is one of the few "unennbeds" re- 

maining. In addition to his website, Jamail's articles 

Common Dreams ■•■'% 'j?^''-- Buzzflash ^ji^^^ ^PP^^^ ^^ and, tammoiA /WimS' and he is regularly interviewed on Democracy Now!, 

Progressive wire, news, and press •■.n,ea„i? Sometimes known as the "Un- mjjljjj^ Free Speech Radio News, and Air America, 
releases from around the world, •■■... ...••■ drudge Report," Buzzflash offers t^ 

all gathered in one site and updat- one of the most extensive digests ''■■ -■'' Al Jazeera 

ed daily. Plus there's Russel Mokiber's of the day's news in addition to edi- 

"Scottie and Me " section (formerly An and I), a must torials, cartoonists, alerts, interviews, even an audio Anything provoking such ire from the Bush adminis- 

read if you're in need of a laugh, and to get an idea section titled "GOP Hypocrite of the Week." tration has got to be worth checking out (Rumsfeld 

of the absurdity of White House press briefings. has called it "Osama bin Laden's mouthpiece"). 

Grist With a focus on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle 

Indymedia East. Al Jazeera added an English-version web site The informative, amusing online environmental a few years ago. 

No surprises here. In five short years, open-pub- magazine also sends out a daily or weekly digest of 

lishing Independent Media Centers have sprouted all the latest environmental news. Anti-War 

in about 150 cities across the globe, expanded to 

include print and broadcast, and are responsible for Cursor A project of the libertarian, non-interventionism 

some of the most comprehensive, up-to-date cover- Randolph Bourne Institute launched during the Clin- 

age of mass demonstrations. Daily news summaries on national and international ton administration, Antiwarcom provides extensive 

linking to original sources. Lots of other links to coverageof American foreign policy and imperialism 

The New Standard blogs, online media, newspapers, media research, through original articles and commentary, syndicat- maps, documents and memos, people, books, and ed pieces, and daily links to breaking news. 

Just reaching its year anniversary, TNS has pub- humor. 

lished more than 1200 original, progressive hard Honorable Mention: BzgMzi burning 

news articles, with extensive coverage of Iraq, Civil Best News on Iraq 

Liberties, and the 2004 Election. And they've even --^^ Riverbend's blog isn't updated often (lack of daily 

earned the distinction of being threatened by de- Dahr Jamail ..-i' "^^^ electricity doesn't make it easy to), but her posts 

fense contractor CACI International for their cover- ^jft^^B vividly describe the chaos, frustration, and anger of 

age of torture in Iraqi prisons. Fed up with the corporate me- ^^^^m day to day conditions for Iraqis under the US occu- 

dia coverage of the War on Iraq, ^i^ pation - details of which are often left out of both 

Jamail independently financed his the mainstream and independent press. 


Best Political Blog 


While the site's been up since 
2002, many people were turned 
on to it during Election 2004 for 
all the latest in voter suppression, 
electronic voting controversies, key state races, and 
GOTV campaigns. This is a favorite among both in- 
dependent and mainstream media consumers, and 
considered one of the best and most popular politi- 
cal blogs, period. 

They Rule 

They Rule puts the US ruling class under a micro- 
scope, proving a forum, interact map and research- 
ing tools, databases, and links to help citizens 
understand the connections between powerful cor- 
porations, the people who run them, and their influ- 


Best Independent Radio Station 


Madison, Wisconsin's listener- 
sponsored, community-powered 
radio station, broadcasting for 
nearly 30 years. Featuring locally 
produced public affairs programs like 
Third World View, Her Turn, and the Access Hour; and 
folk, punk, indie rock, blues, latino, and pan-African 
music shows, to name a few. 


Another community radio gem, shaking up the air- 
waves in the Twin Cities for 25 years. In the volun- 
teer-powered spirit, KFAI invites the public to learn the 
basics of making radio, providing a venue for those 
people and ideas ignored by the mainstream media. 

ence on the economy. An indispensable resource for 
journalists and concerned citizens alike. 

The Narcosphere 


The blog portion of Narco News and the School of 

Authentic Journalism, this multi-lingual site focuses 

on coverage of the drug war from Latin America, and 

other facets of US foreign policy and imperialism. 

Posts come from a diverse band of international 


Best Progressive Entertainment Site 

Bushflash aka Eric Blumrich and 
A veritable clearinghouse of anti-Bush videos, ani- 
mations, slideshows, and a community forum and 
gallery. Animations are also subtitled in ten lan- 

Mark Flore 

Fiore takes political cartoons to another level with 
short, quippy flash animations - sometimes interac- 
tive ones - that provide a few laughs, while taking 
a critical look at US politics and the Bush admin- 

The Onion 

More than just a free entertainment rag, the biting 
and unapologetic satire of The Onion provides timely 
commentary on currrent affairs to a nation-wide au- 
dience. Music and film reviews definitely cover the 
mainstream, but there are usually a few renegades 
in the mix too. 


The oldest progressive radio network in the U.S., Pa- 
cifica has gone through much turbulence in recent 
years. While the organization gradually recoups from 
the damage, the five Pacifica stations (KPFA. KPFK, 
KPF, WBAI, and WPFW) continue to provide some of 
the most critical and innovative news, public af- 
fairs, arts, and culture programming. 

Best Progressive Radio Host 



Amy Goodman 

Host, Demcracy Now! 
This unflagging journalist and 
independent media activist, may 
be the predictable winner for this 
category, and will likely earn similar 
titles for years to come. But Amy Goodman's recog- 
nition is well deserved, for her dedication to social 
justice issues, for continuing to ask tough ques- 
tions, and for exposing some of the most important, 
under-reported stories of the last two decades. 

Randi Rhodes 

Host. The Randi Rhodes Show 
Okay, so as a daily four-hour talk show on the com- 
mercial, progressive Air America network, this isn't 
technically "independent." But Rhodes is one of 
the most knowledgeable people on the radio, using 
facts, sources, and statistics to back up her com- 
mentary. Her program and personality are rather 
addicting, as the many daily callers pledging their 
love attest. 

Deepa Fernandes 

Host, Free Speech Radio News 
Another progressive voice heard daily on the air- 
waves, Fernandes is an accomplished, audio pro- 
ducer who's reported award-winning documentaries 
and reports on neglected communities and issues 
from across the globe, mcluding Cuba. Mexico. India 
and Australia. 





Best Newspaper 

The Guardian ; 

The Guardian could very well be v^ 
the longest-running independent '/. 
daily still in existence. It was found- 
ed in 1821, after the army turned its weapons on 
a peaceful rally in Manchester, and remains free 
of corporate and press-baron ownership through a 
trust that protects the paper's independence. If you 
don't have access to a newsstand that carries it, you 
can subscribe to The Guardian Weekly, or of course, 
access the website. 


The newspaper of the NYC Indymedia Center is pub- 
lished biweekly and distributed for free all over the 
five boroughs. Content is timely and insightful, and 
covers a range of domestic and international news. 
If you don't live in NYC. a full pdf download of the 
publication is available online. 

Philly Independent 
The Monthly Journal of Urban Particulars is a pro- 
gressive paper offering coverage of news, culture, 
and the arts with an emphasis on the greater Phila- 
delphia region, (see review in murmurs section) 

Best Magazine 


Beginning in 1996 as a zine. LiP 
has evolved into a solid magazine 
over the years, and both print and on- 
line versions have unique offerings. (Sign-up for the 
weekly media picks, a colorful and often surprising 
digest of web audio, articles, and cartoons) The 
print version gets accolades for the creative, eye- 
catching layout and. of course, the provocative con- 
tent and intelligent reporting. 


Best Media Literacy/Activism Organiza- 

Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) 
ACME may be fairly new to the block 
(the organization started in 2002), 
but they're growing steadily with 
chapters in New Mexico, Vermont, 
and Southern California and an up- 
coming ACME Summit in 2006. ACME 
formed in response to a demand for a media literacy 
organization that was free from corporate media 
funding and other profit-driven influences. In addi- 
tion to distributing curricula, ACME media activists 
promote independent media making and participate 
in local, state, and national media reform efforts. 

The founding members of this mircoradio power- 
house began their voyage "on the oceans of aether 
as pirates to protest media concentration and de- 
mand access to the airwaves." Projects include 
trainings, mentorships, legal advising, and the fa- 
mous barnraisings during which low-power stations 
are constructed from the ground-up. Prometheus 
Radio also won a landmark lawsuit against FCC last 
year, which prevented the commission from further 
relaxing radio, TV, and newspaper ownership rules. 

Reclaim the Media 

Pacific NW independent journalists, activists, and 
community organizers promoting press freedom 
and community media access, while fighting FCC 
deregulation and lack of diversity in the media. 
Seattle-area cable subscribers can watch RTM TV, 
Thursdays at 11 PM. The website offers news, fo- 

rums, audio, media justice resources, and lots of 
media activism links. 

Best Media Watchdogs 


One of the most visible media 
watchdogs, FAIR delivers timely 
and thorough critiques of bias and •••^j .v.-^-- 
censorship in the media, and pro- 
duces the bimonthly Extra! and weekly 
radio program, Counterspin. Subscribe to their email 
action alerts, and you can be a part of the growing 
grassroots media movement that won't let the cor- 
porate media get away with lies, distortion, and the 
reckless coverage that passes for journalism. 

Project Censored 

Independent media coverage is difficult enough to 
distribute to a large audience, much less preserve 
after the publication dates. But Project Censored's 
yearly list of 25 top overlooked and under-reported 
stories insures further dissemination of these im- 
portant issues, and also serves as an archive for 
years to come. Don't forget to nominate for next 
year's edition! 

Public Accuracy 

A media watchdog organization that throws its 
resources into getting alternative voices into the 
media - both progressive and mainstream. Each 
week, the IPA highlights key issues and provides 
a roster of experts from academia. public-interest 
groups, and grassroots organizations to give rapid 
responses about breaking stories. The work of the 
IPA has proved invaluable, in both helping reporters 
add progressive voices to their stories, and in broad- 
ening overall diversity and discourse in the media. 

Best Progressive Agitprop 

Pink Bloque 

Frustrated by the didactic and 
alienating tactics of '60s radical 
politics still being used at dem- 
onstrations, this group of Chicago 
activists began energizing protests 
with bright colors, catchy slogans, pop music, and 
radical booty shaking. The spirited actions break 
barriers between people (especially with bystanders 
and law enforcement), a perfect environment to get 
out the word about the wage gap, militarism, civil 
liberties, and violence against women. 


This subversive, culture-jamming corporation has 
pulled off some pretty unbelievable feats. Back in 
1993, there was the Barbie Liberation Organization 
project, which switched the voice boxes on hundreds 
of Barbie and Gl Joe Dolls, then returned them to 
stores. New projects and techniques have evolved 
tremendously, including and The Yes Men, 
and their continued successes in impersonating 
CEOs and world trade officials across the globe. 

The People's Guide to the RNC 2004 

The demonstrations in NYC for the 2004 Republican 
National Convention were some of the most orga- 
nized and technically advanced. The RNC Guide was 
a tremendous resource, laying out event locations, 
protest sites, bathrooms, affordable restaurants 
and lodging, bike shops, bail bondsmen, and WIFI 
locations. In addition to portable sizes, the map was 
also available in a super-size wall version for large 
scale organizing. 


Agriculture, Science, Race, Art, Spirituality, Politics, 
and Youth are )ust some of the areas covered in the 
Bainbridge Island, WA-based Yes! magazine. The 
people behind this quarterly publication also have 
a sister organization, the Positive Futures Network, 
and both seek to raise awareness of and participa- 
tion in sustainable communities. Past articles in- 
clude an interview with former war correspondent 
Chris Hedges, a resource guide for healing and 
resistance, and- a prohle of the Colombian peace 


A multi-racial quarterly publication covering politics, 
culture, art, the environment, gender, labor, organiz- 
ing, and the color lines that still exist in the 21" Cen- 
tury. There is also a new wire service feature on the 

website, which distributes monthly updates on news 
and information exploring race and race relations. 

Best Political Publication 

Left Turn 

A magazine, book publisher, and 
network. Left Turn operates from 
cities coast to coast, exploring 
issues of anti-capitalism, anti-im- 
perialism, workers' rights, and social 
justice. Left Turn articles on the agri-food system, 
Brazilian President Lula da Silva and neo-liberalism, 
and the radical reconstruction of Iraq's economy all 
made Project Censored's top-25. 

In These Times 

W\[h 28 years of history out of the Windy City, in 

These Times produces some of the best investiga- 
tive reporting, progressive news and analysis, and 
arts and culture reviews. Contributors vary issue to 
issue, with regular staff contributions from Salim 
Muwakkil, Susan Douglas, and editor Joel Bleifuss 
in addition to guest contributors Arundhati Roy, Kurt 
Vonnegut, Clamor contributor Kari Lyndersen, and 
many others. 


Inspired by a love/hate relationship with pop cul- 
ture, a need to open a forum about gender in the 
media, and a desire to revitalize the voice of femi- 
nism, Bitcti has been a mainstay in alternative 
magazine publishing for the better part of the last 
decade. Sharp, surprising, and witty analysis of the 
(mis)representations of women in film, TV, videos, 
magazines, and on the web. 




Best Independent Movie Distributor 

Women Make Movies 

This long-running multi-racial 
media arts organization has pro- 
duced, promoted, and distributed 
independent films by and about 
women since 1972. But their interna- 
tional distribution program is their primary focus, 
getting films (500 in their catalog) out to colleges, 
galleries, community centers, labor halls, even the 
US Army. 

Third World Newsreel 

Another seasoned independent media arts organi- 
zation. Third World Newsreel has been around since 
1967, with their first black and white films on the 
Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the anti-war 
and civil rights movements. The organization also 
provides training, exhibitions, and technical sup- 

Whispered Media 

A video activist collective using media tools for so- 
cial, economic, and environmental justice, and to 

strengthen grassroots organization. Founding mem- 
bers of the Video Activist Collective and Indymedia, 
Whisper Media is the distribution cell of these Bay 
Area media activists. Check out the website, where 
you can watch numerous clips and order videos. 

Best Film and Video Training 

Paper Tiger TV 

Since 1981 this New York-based 
volunteer video collective has 
made hundreds of programs air- 
ing on public access channels that 
challenge and offer an alternative to mainstream 
media. Democratizing the process of making TV is 
part of their mission, and PTTV offers video produc- 
tion training, media literacy workshops, community 
screenings, and grassroots activism for anybody 
that wants to get involved. 

Third World Majority 

Based in San Francisco, TWM is run by a collective 
of young women of color, and focuses on developing 
media programming that works toward global jus- 
tice and social change through grassroots political 
organizing. Their focus project is a three-day com- 

munity digital storytelling workshop, which teaches 
people to tell their stories by combining personal 
objects like letters, news clippings, photos, with 
digital media. 

Alliance for Community Media 
Video Machete 

The Chicago-based intergenerational, multi-ethnic 
collective trains youth to document their stories 
through graphic design, digital video, audio pro- 
duction, and multi-media projects. With a mission 
to produce programming ignored or erased by the 
mainstream media, recent projects focus on immi- 
grant youth, LBT women, and media activism. 

Did we miss your favorite independent media 
projects Put ttiem on our radar by emailing us at 
soapbox@clamormagazine. org 

Are you tired of swatting at flies? Frustrated that we're not 
forward-leaning enough on our problems? Think it's time for a 
full-scale review? Then this year's Allied Media Conference is 
for you. We'll be discussing and presenting new solutions to 
old problems. For all the zinesters, filmmakers, radio pirates, 
journalists, MCs, and friends, this is the place to come together 
and remove those obstacles we all face individually but can only 
remove collectively. ,^ 

The AMC is the largest gathering of grassroots media makers 
from all across the country. The conference features hands- 
on workshops, film screenings, artist presentations, a large 
exhibition hall to share our work, facilitated discussions, and a 
series of workshops for educators on using independent media in 
the classroom. Set in a small, midwest town, it's also a space to 
strengthen our community and enjoy each other's company. 


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The National 


for Media Reform 

May 13-15,2005 

Millennium Hotel 

St. Louis, Missouri 

Gathering. Momentum. 

The war in Iraq. 

The 2004 election. 

Corporate media failed us on the 
most important issues of our time. 

Now do something about it. 

The National Conference for Media Reform will be a crucial forum to discuss 
visionary and practical solutions to the problems of our media. 

Join thousands of activists, educators, journalists, artists, scholars and 
concerned citizens this May for three days of networking, strategizing and 

The event will offer dozens of policy roundtable discussions, hands-on 
workshops, and a variety of sessions on media ownership and consolidation, 
grassroots organizing, globalization, media literacy, public broadcasting, 
intellectual property, commercialism, community Internet, and much more. 

Join us 

To register for the conference or for more information - including an up-to- 
date list of confirmed speakers and panelists, program outline, lodging options 
and scholarship information - visit 

Then explore the rest of the Web site, where you can learn 
more about media reform, get the latest news from Washington and the 
grassroots, sign up to receive action alerts, and much more. 

convened by 

/•* convenea oy ^'^ 


Free Press is a non-profit organization 
working to involve the public in media 
policy-making and to craft policies for a 
more democratic media system. 

The 2003 National Conference for Media 
Reform in Madison, Wise, brought together 
more than 1 ,700 people and invigorated the 
media reform movement. This year's event 
promises to be even better. Among those 
scheduled to attend: 

Eric Alterman 

/Author, What Liberal Media? 

Bill Fletcher 

TransAfrica Forum 

Al Franken 


Amy Goodman 

Democracy Now! 

Juan Gonzalez 

New York Daily News 

Robert Greenwald 

Director, Outfoxed 

Arianna Huffington 

Syndicated Columnist 

Janine Jackson 


Naomi Klein 

Author, No Logo 

George Lakoff 

Author, Don't Think of an Elephant 

Robert McChesney 

Founder, Free Press 

John Nichols 

The Nation 

May 13-15,2005 • St. Louis 


Life in Iraq, as told by 
16-Year Old "Aunt Najma 


0">'cr the last decade, the Internet has become the 
international water cooler of our times. Every- 
body has a version of what happened yesterday and, 
now, everybody has a chance not only to tell but also 
to publish his or her story. This became doubly im- 
portant in Iraq, where war, insurgent bombs, civilian 
casualties, roadside attacks, U.S. tanks, and soldiers 
all create confusion and uncertainty in daily life. 

As mainstream U.S. news outlets rely on embedded reporters to 
tell the stories, people are turning to a different source for on-the- 
ground reporting: blogs. The first of now more than 30 bloggers out of 
Iraq was Salam Pax (not his real name), who began posting letters to a 
friend in Jordan in Deceinber 2002. Hours before U.S. troops attacked. 
Pax wrote the now infamous words on March 2 1 , 2003: "2 more hours 
until! (sic) the B52"s get to Iraq." 

The Iraqi bloggers write posts in varying levels of English, often 
intended for audiences outside Iraq. The writers include dentists, high 
school students, architects, and engineers. According to Rashid Kha- 
lidi, a professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, electricity 
shortages keep most Iraqis from having regular access to the Internet. 

Scattered throughout the blogs are readers' demands for the iden- 
tities of the Iraqi bloggers. It is a blogosphere idiosyncrasy that a ma- 
jority of bloggers, regardless of national boundaries, choose to write 
under pseudonyms. The responses to disclosure requests are usually 
variations on, "If you don't believe it, then don't read it." For some 
opposite: Abdullah's neice Aya set against a picture outside of Abdulah's school. 

Charu Gupta 

Iraqi bloggers, the answer tends to be "I don't want to get killed," or 
"I want to continue writing freely." 

One thing is certain, however. On the many Iraqi blogs^ there is 
an immediacy, a visceral truth about what's happening in neighboring 
houses and streets. Whether their identities are known or not, bloggers 
connect with readers on an emotional level. And, given the lack of 
U.S. reporting on civilian casualties and injuries, many Iraqi blog- 
gers provide eyewitness accounts of things that cannot be otherwise 
known. Even if one of them may be untrue, they are a slice of real- 
ity, chosen by the writer, and filtered through their words and percep- 

A Star in Mosul is the blog of 16-year-old Najina Abdullah (a 
pseudonym - Najma is "star" in Arabic), who also calls herself "Aunt 
Najma" after recently welcoming her niece Aya into the world. Her 
father is a doctor and her mother is a civil engineer and university 
lecturer Abdullah is in an advanced high school for girls and is eager 
to attend a university, but her education is currently another casualty 
of war. Her words, however, are making history. 

The next few pages feature an abridged version of Abdullah's blog 

from November and December 2004. No spelling errors or typos have 

been corrected. 


Eid. Eid al-hada; Muslim holiday known as "Feast of the Sacrifice" 

Fiitoor. Meal taken at sunset to break fasting 

Hijcih: Traditional Muslim woman's headscarf 

Gargoor. Grover from Sesame Street 






Friday, November 12, 2004 

CVn;/;g with no tears 

Everything started the day before yesterday; 
they declared a curfew at Mosul TV from 
4PM Wednesday, till 6AM on Friday. The 
Arabic media didn't mention anything and so 
half of the Iraqi people didn't know about it. 

In the meanwhile my oldest sister was 
in our house, it has passed 4PM when we 
knew about it, so we decided to drop her at 
her house (Which is the same as her parents- 
in-law) in the morning next day. 

The morning came, 1 was sleeping at my 
room upstairs, and a war of bullets started... I 
decided to move myself down when it started 
to be a heavy fighting and there were also ex- 
plosions and mom was shouting at me to get 
down... It was 10AM. My oldest sister was 
ready to go, but she can't go in such situation 
so she decided to wait till it clams down. 

My brother-in-law was supposed to 
come before the Eid. We didn't know uhen 
exactly, because the hospital's phone is bro- 
ken... My oldest sister (Let's call her S now) 
was so worried that he'll come and get stuck 
in the other side of the city because of the 
curfew, so she tried to call him on a friend's 
mobile, it wasn't working but it did at about 
1 1AM, she told her to tell him not to come 
because the situation is too bad and he won't 
make it till here.. The friend told her that he 
already started his way to Mosul an hour ago. 
Here S started to worry too much!! Till about 
1 1 :30, her sister-in -law called and told her to 
call her husband on the mobile because she's 
Trying to and failing... She said also that her 
father-in-law got shot in his leg while trying 
to get back from the clinic, and he's in the 
hospital and that her husband should go with 
him since nobody in the neighborhood can 
move his head out of the door! The war was 
horribly improving. 

S called her brother-in-law, and he told 
her that he is in the hospital and that his father 
has DIED... 

I can't describe how 1 telt, I was crying 
and shaking and the tears wouldn't go out... 
I just held Aya who's just lost a grandpa and 
made sure she won't cry and make things 
worse. S was terribly SAD. confused, and 
WORRIED about everything. Mostly about 
her husband who's in his way to a big sur- 
prise and about her sister-in-law who's alone 
at home in the middle of the war. pregnant in 
her 9th month.. 

For 4 hours and a half, we were stuck at 
home, making sure dad won't get out of the 
house in this war, trying to clam Aya who was 
frightened at\er a loud explosion... Those were 
one of the most horrible moments in my life. 
People calling asking it what they've heard 
about S's father-in-law was true, my sister 
crying and worried (I've never seen her like 
that), y cars burning in the street, and then S's 
brother-in-law called and asked about the place 

where they keep the cotton (They brought his 
father home, and they're trying to wash him 
like the Muslims do to their dead before bury- 
ing them), there were no enough cotton and 
they can't go out to buy some. 

1 talked a lot till now so I'll try to shorten 
things. At 3PM, things calmed down... Dad 
drove S to her house, and there they were 
ready to get the body and burry it. Dad went 
with them since he was his friend, and came 
back after we've had futoor. 

Till 5:30, my brother-in-law finally ar- 
rived! Thank God. He was stuck for 1:30 
minutes with his luggage on the other side 
of the bridge, and he came on foot from the 
bridge to his house, eager to see his little 
daughter after a month of absence... And here 
he comes, to find his dad dead and buried! 

Nobody knows who shoot him, but 
everybody knows that he's now in Heaven. 
He died in the night of power, fasting, and 
shaheed. At least he's seen his first grand- 
child who'll carry his name (Aya)... His son 
said that this was the death that he's always 
dreamt of 

I had two eye doctors. Both are dead 
now!! Imagine! Both are killed now! This 
one was so kind and he was shy from me 
more that I was from him. Both men are 
great in everything and have the best man- 
ners and I'm not exaggerating. 

Okay, it was a long day that I slept at 
10 o'clock and I was so tired. 1 woke up at 
2:30AM (The mosque was calling at that 
time, telling us to be careful and to guard 
the neighborhood because a bad group of 
robbers and destroyers has entered the city 
somehow!!) and started praying and reading 
Quran till 5:15AM. It's the night of power, 
we should pray a lot... 

Then mom woke me up at 12AM, I was 
awake along time ago. but 1 knew there's noth- 
ing to happen, days arc looong these days, and 
the things that happen are rarely good. 

Now, we can't even get near S's house. 
An American Stry ker is near the house shoot- 
ing every car coming near by. We wanted to 
get Aya here so that S can be more comfort- 
able but we couldn't. 

Dad is trying to convince me that ev- 
erybody has his own day to die and that not 
allowing him to get out is not a solution!! 
That's how things are going on, the war is not 
over and I slept at the sound of bullets and 
explosions last night... Mom said that this war 
is the worst among all the others... The .Arabic 
media didnt mention anything!! 

Tomorrow is Eid; this is the worse night 
of Eid I've ever been in. I wonder whether 
we'll wait for that song ^i J^ ^t^-^ 
ij,.^->:\5ji like always, or just forget about it. 

I'll wake up tomorrow (If I'm alive of 
course) and put on my new clothes, and sec if 
we're going to get out... 

PS: I made lots of mistakes in the brother- 

in-law, sister-in-law thing since I don't know 
how you call them in English). 
posted hy Aunt S'ajma (a^ 1:1S P.\f 

IMonday, November 15, 2004 

What 's happening for two Ja\s'.'? 

Okay, today is the first day of Eid.. 1 was mis- 
taken when I said it was yesterday, it's just 
confusing because the mosques did say that it 
was yesterday but then we had an announce- 
ment on TV that denies it, so we just fasted 
another day and started the Eid today. 

It doesn't seem like we're going out of 
the house! Although I really w ish I will since I 
spent a lot of time fixing my hijab!! Mom and 
dad w ent and took Aya to spend the day here 
and then they'll drive her back to her mom 
before the curfew starts at 4 o'clock. They say 
that the Americans release \ iolent dogs in the 
streets at night so that people won't get out 
(I want some respect!! Dogs!). I remember 
when I used to get bored at night w hen people 
start leaving and the Eid ends, now I haven't 
even seen any of my uncles since dad came 
back from Egypt. 

My bundle of joy (As someone once 
called her) came today with a toy from her 
dad. he calls it Gargoor. it's one of the char- 
acters of Semsimi street (Not sure of the 
spelling).. Mom gave her her gift of Eid from 
yesterday, it's that thing that spins o\er her 
head on her bed at night and sings. Her mom 
said that the emotions on her face when the 
toys started spinning and singing (Twinkle 
Twinkle little star!!) were unexplainable, 
she was totally surprised and excited. She's 
surely helped her father a lot these days, she's 
talking to him all the time.. She doesn't speak 
Arabic yet. just Irr. Orr. Arr and such words. 
posted by Aunt Sajma (a 2:03 PM 

Thursday, November 18, 2004 

Going out..! 

Yeppy. I saw two more uncles today. It was 
calm in the morning, so we went out and \ is- 
ited two of my uncles, and then dropped b> 
my big sister's house and I saw m\ brother- 
in-law for the first time for a month, and he 
was alright as it seemed, a little angry at cry- 
ing Aya.. 

The weather w as nice and the sky was re- 
ally blue w ith w hite big nice clouds. The water 
is the street is reflecting the bluencss of the sky 
and all the other things were washed by the rain. 
I took some pictures that I'll try to post hea\. 

We made an arrangement w ith my sister 
and her husband that we'll come tomorrow 
and take .Aya to stay with us till ihe curlew 
(At 4PM). 

Nobody seems to be going lo school 
soon, and the parents aren't ready to send 
their kids there.. 

We also bought bread, we've been un- 
able to buy it for a week, now I can eat sand- 
witches as much as I want.. We bought falafel 
too, which is by the way my favourite meal. 

There are no Police nor American sol- 
diers in the streets we went through, just peo- 
ple.. The gasoline stations were full, and there 
were also a long line of cars and the drivers 
were waiting to their turn to fill their cars. 

We can see those black pieces of cloth 
that the Iraqis have used to write their dead 
people's names on, plenty of them were 
hanged along the road, most of them were 
killed by either the terrorists or the American 
soldiers.. I've called my friend yesterday who 
told me about her brother's friend who is in 
the medical school.. Robbers have tried to 
kill him and his 18-year-old brother for their 
car but for some reason didn't get the car, the 
18-year-old one died and the other is in the 
hospital now.. In the same accident, a woman 
with her infant were crossing the street, the 
infant got a bullet and died in the hospital!! 

As some Iraqis have used the walls to 
practice their free speech after the war, a wall 
of a school has a writing that says: "We'll kill 
everyone who'll participate in the elections", in 
Arabic. I was few days ago urging my parents 
to go participate in the elections, if we didn't 
vote, who will!! But, I guess I'll stop urging 
anyone now since it's a dangerous thing like 
everything else.. Let's just hope that the ones 
who'll vote will vote for the RIGHT person. 
posted hy Aunt Najma (a^ 5:54 PM 

Friday, November 26, 2004 

What s happening? (Updated) 

Today, at 7PM, we had electricity for the first 
time in 35 hours!! We spent all this time on 
the generators. There was no problem except 
for water. Water is so cold in winter, the heat- 
ers only operate on electricity (Although we 
have non-electric heaters, but dad hoped that 
the electricity will come soon and he didn't 
turn them on), and with no heaters, we have 
very cold water! 

At night yesterday, I brushed my teeth, 
the water was so cold that all my teeth started 
aching! I didn't dare to wash my face with 
such cold water although I needed to (I've 
declared a war against acne!). 

Today, I heard one BIG explosion and 
few far shooting! Nothing close to us. 

I'm having a difficulty with studying. 
Although we didn't go back to school, but we 
do need to study! Whenever I take a school- 
book to read, 1 lose any desire to study. 
Whenever I take a book (Any book but not a 
school-book), 1 start reading right away with 

no laziness! We might go back to schools if 
things stayed that way, calm and stable com- 
pared to the past few days. 

And now, dear bed, here I come :) 

Good night everybody, 


posted by Aunt Najma @ 1:00 AM 

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 

Bad news, funny news and good news.. 

Let's start with some bad news.. A neigh- 
bor got kidnapped today at about 7:30AM. I 
heard the shooting and some shouting in the 
morning but didn't know what happened, dad 
heard about the kidnapping in the mosque 
(That's where all the neighbors exchange their 
news). He was kidnapped from his BED.. The 
kidnappers called then asking for money (50, 

000 US dollars!!) 

I had a terrible mistake at the Chemis- 
try exam today, it can cost me from 5 to 20 
marks. I almost cried but the students were 
admiring my courage and how 1 don't cry at 
such stuff so 1 just couldn't cry.. That's bet- 

A little bomb exploded infront of our 
car the day before yesterday on our way to 
school. There were strykers infront of us but 
the explosion was small and no body was 
hurt. 1 turned the mobile on right when the 
explosion occurred, mom called at once, and 
said that dad has jumped out of bed and he's 
looking for us outside! 1 felt so sorry for them, 

1 can't imagine how they felt when they heard 
the explosion. 

A funny news.. I gave inom the right to 
have my hair cut, for the first time. 1 didn't 
care if she messed it up or not, for two rea- 
sons, nobody will see it since we're not get- 
ting out of the house, and there's no way 
that I can't have it cut by a hair dresser, they 
close their shops early and we can't get out 
of the house.. 1 just kept praying that she 
won't mess it up, and kept laughing of the 
strange way she held the scissor. Well, the 
results aren't bad at all! 

Now, some good news. Aya's cousin 
was born today, it's a girl, but we didn't 
know what they named her. My older sis- 
ter left Aya at our house and went with her 
husband to the hospital to take care of her 
sister-in-law, her husband was in Baghdad 
and couldn't attend the birth of his first child 
(Just like his brother).. Those men don't 
have luck to watch their children's birth. 

And as usual, I'm sure there was some- 
thing else, but 1 have to go to sleep.. 

Good night.. 

Sleep tight.. 

Don't let the bed bugs bite.. 

posted by Aunt Najma @ 9:54 PM 

Saturday, December 25, 2004 

Meriy Christmas everyone 

We went to school today, it was raining heavi- 
ly, and it didn't make me feel well. But, when 
we reached school, they sent us back to our 
houses. I don't know when will we be able to 
go back to school and start a stable year. 

We're running out of bread, and the 
bakery shops aren't having enough gasoil (I 
can't distinguish between gasoline, gasoil or 
anything else), and this is a problem.. Some 
people are freezing in their houses from the 
cold weather and they have no gasoil to turn 
on their heaters (That's something else I'm not 
sure of its name, I don't think you even use it!). 
Plus, I was telling mom that I'll need to take a 
shower today when dad told me that I'll have 
to wait till Thursday; we're not getting enough 
electricity to heat the water, and we don't have 
enough gasoil to heat it on fire. 

Yes, it looks like we're going back to the 
dark ages and mom will soon have to bake the 
bread by herself. 

Some better news; mom and dad are plan- 
ning to buy us a video digital camera to take 
videos of the new changes in dear Aya's life. 
She discovered yesterday that she has feet and 
was so happy about it like her mother said.. 

So, Christmas is not promising here.. It 
looks so dark outside although it's 2PM.. We 
went out tomorrow for my cousin's birthday 
(Who became 7 years old) and people are talk- 
ing about how courageous we are to go out at 
4PM! ! I felt sorry for this boy, he was so afraid 
the day before yesterday when plains were 
throwing rockets from the sky. But I don't 
blame him, mom was so scared too. 

I feel like I'm getting more pessimistic 
everyday. But I'm more positive than I look 
like here.. 

Okay, Merry Christmas one more time, and 

good bye. 

posted by Aunt Najma @ 1:40 PM "A' 

ed. note: the hospitalized brother later died. 

Cham Gupta is a Cleveland-based freelance 
journalist. She writes about education, immi- 
gration and minority communities. Her work 
has appeared in The Progressive, Colorlines, 
Cleveland Scene, and Cleveland Magazine. 
She can be reached at 

"I'm having a difficulty with studying. Although we didn't go back to school, but we do need to study! 
Whenever I take a school-book to read, I lose any desire to study. Whenever I take a book (Any book 
but not a school-book), i start reading right away with no laziness! We might go back to schools if 
things stayed that way, calm and stable compared to the past few days." 




making media in 





As an independent American journalist, covering the 
war in Iraq is a challenge, to say the least. Recogniz- 
ing that reporting news would nearly be impossible. 
Christian Parcnti, correspondent for The Nation, 
chose to focus on the culture of Iraq under occupa- 
tion. ''What 1 tried to cover is the texture, the cul- 
ture of the occupation, the texture of everyday life," 
Parcnti said in a recent interview in Brooklyn. 

His writings from Iraq arc compiled in his latest 
book, 77?^ Freedom: Shadows and HaUiicinations in 
Occupied Iraq. In Iraq, Parcnti embedded with elite 
troops and reservists, and met with members of the 
Sunni and Shia resistance before the threat of kid- 
napping became too risky. He witnessed car bomb- 
ings, gunfights, and sweeps through the streets of 
Fallujah; he interviewed Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib 
and those just trying to live their lives in the midst of 

Parcnti, a 35-year old writer, is the author of two 
other books. The Soft Cai^e and Lockdown America, 
and is a regular contributtir to The Nation and The 
Brooklyn Rail. 

Interview h Collin Yeo 

CIcimor: What is ihe higgesi difference between the .American public's 
perception of the situation in Iraq and tfiat of someone who has been 

F'arcnti: The biggest difTerenee is that the level ofehaos in Iraq is inueh 
greater than most people here think. The situation in ecntral Iraq is re- 
ally out of control and I think it's headed towards a long-tenn melt- 
down. The war there is not going to stop for years and years, whether 
or not the U.S. slays or goes. I'm surprised people dont realize how 
out of control it is. It's gotten to the pomt now where journalists arc. 
for the most part, locked down in their hotels. It's \ery hard to move 
around: there are very few journalists doing anything uncmbedded. 

Another major perception is just racism, that Iraqis are simple 
sheepherders who live in tents. That's not the case. Iraqis are \er> 
intellectual, very sophisticated. 

As a freelance there, working on a much lower budget than 
a lot of the television Journalists had. what do you think were .\omc 
of the major differences between your experiences and tho.Kc of the 
television Journalists? 

We lived in dilTerent conditions; we lived in different hotels. I had a 
difVercnt set of peers and. therefore, a dilTerent kind of ideological set 
of references or reinforcements. We stayed in budget hotels. 

The last time I was there, it was me, David I-nders [editor ol 
Baghdad Hullclin]. and Dahr .lamail (independent journalist and cor- 
respoiulenl lor The New Standard |. We were all American lefties in 
this beat-up little hotel tr\ing to Ir Ic out What 1 wrote atniut more 

in The Freedom was the longer period of time I spent in the Aga- 
deer, which was this budget hotel with mostly European and Eastern- 
European freelancers. Everybody was broke and people weren't as 
careerist. They probably did a lot more drugs than people did at the 
Palestine Hotel and we would have lively political debates. 

WTien you hang out with the mainstream press, everybody is re- 
ally polite and often avoid political debates. They're just dull, polite 
Ivy-Leaguers. When you go freelance and low budget, you end up 
with freaks, which is a lot more fun. 

We were all pretty clearly anti-occupation. There was no pretense 
of. '"Gee what's going here?" We were all pretty opposed to the war. I 
definitely feel that my reporting was what 1 would say was objective, 
true to the facts. I reported facts that disagreed with my political posi- 
tion, but I also didn't go there with some faux-open mind. 

Yeah, there was sort of, like, an urban myth, or urban myths, that cir- 
culated among U.S. soldiers about Al Jazeera being in cahoots with 
the resistance. When we'd show up at some military operation and 
we'd say, "Hey, we're journalists. Can we talk to you and come inside 
the cordon search and check things out?" Often the soldiers would say, 
"As long as you're not Al Jazeera!" 

But. with v\hatever big story there had been, they would have 
their prejudice. One time it was Time magazine, and the soldier said, 
"You're not with Time magazine, are you?" Time magazine had just 
profiled the resistance. I was just like, "Whatever, man, I'm NOT with 
Time magazine." 

Did that prejudice extend to other Arab news organizations or was it 
mainlv directed at Al Jazeera? 

Having that position, writing for The Nation, and being a free- 
lancer, did you find yourself being treated any differently by the 
U.S. military? 

No. Everybody gets the run-around at the center of the circus, in the 
Green Zone at the press conferences. There's very little information 
available there. If you're a daily journalist and you need the quote im- 
mediately from the big guy about the event that day, you have to go to 
those things and get that. 

1 went to those things mostly for color because there was no real 
information available. If you asked difficult questions, you would get 
the run-around. I saw Christopher Dickey of Newsweek, who is a real- 
ly good journalist, asking difficult questions and just getting the usual 
run-around. But when you deal with military on the ground, usually 
they are just really glad to see another American. 

What is the largest misconception about the war that is being .spread 
by the mainstream media? 

The largest misconception is that the American empire is beneficent 
and competent. That's the constant implied assumption . . . and it's not 
true. This is not a big mission of mercy. It never was and it won't ever 
be. You hear this again and again. Even some people on the left say. 
"Well, we can't cut and run; we have a responsibility." The subtext 
of what they're saying, which they don't even think about, is that the 
U.S. wants to do good, and secondly, is capable of doing good. The 
U.S. is in Iraq to control the Middle East for much less than charitable 
purposes. To control the region, because it is crucial to the economy of 
both Europe and Asia, and to be able to play the petroleum gendarme 
in that region would give the U.S. subtle but very important leverage 
over the two other poles of world capitalism. 

Journalists often talk about the need to remain professional in war- 
zones under great stress. Can you think of a time where you wanted to 
perhaps do more, or where you lost objectivity? 

There wasn't anytime I wanted to, like, pick up a gun or anything 
like that. But I constantly felt the inadequacy of my efforts, vis-a-vis 
the nature of the crisis there. That's sort of a constant, dull pain. You 
realize that one's contribution is pretty limited as a print journalist, 
given the momentum of the whole project and given the momentum 
of television. Television controls the political discourse of this country 
in a way that's so powerful you just inherently feel inadequate: if you 
don't feel inadequate, you just feel the disproportionate firepower that 
they have. 

First of all, most soldiers couldn't even tell the difference between 
Al Jazeera and Reuters. The 82'"' Airborne (not the exact unit that I 
embedded with and wrote about, but guys in the same area) captured 
and badly beat a three-man crew from Reuters who were all Arab. So 
there was definitely an assumption that Arab journalists were all with 
Al Jazeera, nev er mind that Al Jazeera had been steadily toning down 
its politics, and that a lot of Iraqis were like, "Fuck Al Jazeera, they're 
sell-outs," and were following and listening much more to Al Arabiya 
and other channels. 

There was a cognitive dissonance. The soldiers were, like, "Yeah, 
the press is unfair," but then they'd be glad to see you. Everybody kind 
of wants to be famous. They would get steely-eyed and thrust their 
jaws out whenever the cameras came out. 

When you go freelance and low budget, 
you end up with freaks, which is a lot 
more fun. 

You have mentioned how Americans, both the public and military, have 
conscious and subconsciously racist views towards Iraqis. Do you feel 
that this a major reason why this war has been such a catastrophe? 

In a way, yes, but I would not want that answer to be construed as, "If 
the American military, the U.S. government, and the C.I.A. were just 
culturally sensitive in the way they went in and destroyed Iraq and 
humiliated everybody, the Iraqis would have accepted it." That's not 
what I'm saying. The root cause of the problem is the policy. 

The secondary problem, which has exacerbated the core prob- 
lem, is that, yes, there is a lot of ignorance about how Iraqi culture 
works and a lot of racism, which serves to just inflame things. But 
that's not the problem; that's just a sort of ancillary feedback loop 
that's exacerbating the problem. 

The problem is that the Bush administration thinks that it can 
control the planet with military power and that it has rolled the dice 
in that direction. That's not the problem. That they invaded Iraq is the 
problem, if 

Collin Yeo is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. .MY. He is 22. 

You have spoken in previous interx'iews about Salah Hassan, the Al 
Jazeera reporter who was captured by the U.S. Militaty and put in Abu 
Ghraib. Do you know of many instances in which the U.S. militaty had 
a bias against foreign journalists, specifically Al Jazeera reporters? 



Video Killed tl 


Everything I needed to know 1 learned playing The Or- 
egon Trail. Don't shoot more game than you can eat. 
Make friends with the indigenous population, and always 
heed their advice. What you can't buy. trade for. Caulking 
the wagon and floating it across is preferable to fording the 
river. Above all. v\hen you lose too many oxen, it's time to 
rethink your strategy. 

These days, teenagers learn to kill the indigenous 
population, bomb their villages, drain the river, and build a 
highway across it. Video games are now taking us east, not 
west, pushing us into vast new frontiers we never thought 
imaginable in the golden years of Apple II. 

Not content with dazzling us from our televisions, the 
war in Iraq has morphed into a computer game as well. 
Called America's Anny, the game was released in October 
of 2002, the first of a series of games that will be released 
by the military over the next eight years. The software is 
being distributed free online and has already generated as 
many as four million users in the past two years. 

Described by gaming magazines as "intensely realis- 
tic," Americas Army allows players to hear the soothing 
chirping of birds as they reload their sniper rifles on the 
shooting range. Should the player feel lost or ambivalent 
about his purpose in securing the world's safety, he need 
only scroll back to the Soldier's Creed ("I am disciplined, 
physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my 
warrior tasks and drills") and review some positive affir- 
mations that would put Alcoholics Anonymous to shame. 
Should a soldier rebel and shoot his commanding officer, 
he is swiftly relegated to a tiny jail cell, filled with the lone- 
some drones of a hannonica. 

As a recruitment tactic. America's Arniy and the 
swath of other militar^-themed video games (including 
"Conflict: Desert Stomi 11 Back to Baghdad." the Air 
Force's "USAF: Air Dominance." and "SOCOM 11: U.S. 
Navy Seals") appear to be a success. In 1999, recruitment 
numbers fell to a 30-year low, which the Defense Depan- 
ment chased with a S2.2 billion recruitment budget. 

The army spent between S6 and 7 million (of tax dol- 
lars) developing the game and, now, numbers show recruit- 
ment is on the rise. In 2004, the army signed up 77,587 
soldiers, compared to 74.132 in 2003. 

But computer games are only a few of the targets in the 
military's carpet-bombing campaign of the .Xmerican me- 
dia. War-themed tele\ ision shows that ha\c emerged in the 
last few years include "JAG," "Military Diaries," and Fox 
News's "War Stories," a program hosted by former Iran- 
Contra conspirator Oliver North. At the same lime, shows 
with hosts seen as critical of the war in Iraq, such as Phil 
Donahue, arc being cancelled by their networks. The televi- 
sion waxes between promoting its own versions of war and 
downplaying the versions of those w ho arc li\ ing through 

David Robb is a Los Angeles-ba.sed journalist and 
author of the book Opcraiion Hollywood: How the Pen- 
Uifion Shapes ami Censors ihe Movies. "Fil\y years of war 

jbove ".cteen shots Uom ihe Taiga scenes olthe America s Aimy video game 

Football Star 

Dan Gordon with help from Am Johal 

propaganda in American films has contributed to a change 
in the American character," he said. "We're definitely more 
warhke today as a result." 

Robb has done extensive research into the relationship be- 
tween the film industry- and the military, including inten'iews 
with former soldiers who confessed that their decision to join 
the military was directed influenced by war-themed movies. 

He adds that the relationship between the Pentagon and 
war-themed movies runs deeper than most people imagine. 
During the 1986 release of Top Gun, military recruiters set up 
booths in theaters to catch moviegoers as they left. These days, 
they have cut out the middleman by distributing cameras to sol- 
diers, allowing them to record the official, sanitized versions of 
events as they happen and market them for distribution. 

Marketing for the military has become a growth industry 
in the last 20 years. Recruiters have funncled more resources 
into professional consultants, public relations firms, focus 
groups, and marketing advisors in an attempt to capture the 
steadily decreasing attention spans of today's teenagers. 

Rick Jahnkow, co-founder of Project YANO (Youth 
and Non-Military Opportunities), says the military is using 
new media to attract not only tech-savvy teenagers, but also 
minority populations that have been otherwise ignored by 
traditional media. Last year, for example, the Army teamed 
up with The Source magazine to produce a "Take it to the 
Streets" campaign, featuring hip-hop street parties. 

"The militai7 is particularly interested in recruiting La- 
tinos," Jahnkow said. "To them, they're the greatest poten- 
tial source of new bodies that exists. Latinos are seen as an 
exploitable resource." Latinos make up 9.5 percent of active 
forces (13 percent of the general population), and are dispro- 
portionately over-represented in the most dangerous combat 
jobs. Louis Caldera, former secretary of the army, argues that 
the military should increase their attempts to recruit Latinos. 
"Nearly half of all Hispanics fail to graduate. Yet they make 
great soldiers." 

And so, in order to court the Latino recruit, the army 
has invested increasing amounts of money into Spanish-lan- 
guage media, including a website called "El Nav7." These 
ads arc often followed up with media events in Latino com- 
munities where a flame-embossed anny Humvee named "Yo 
Soy el Army" is brought in to shock and awe audiences. A 
system that has failed to accommodate the needs of Spanish- 
speakers while, at the same time, dangles the promise of citi- 
zenship to a select few, has made this population especially 
vulnerable to the seduction of recruiters' promises. 

What the producers of these video games, TV shows, 
and websites all fail to mention is that in real life you can't 
use a parental control setting or a fast-forward button to blot 
out the violence of war. As the hours spent in front of the 
screen turn into years, the images young people consume 
may, in the end, come to consume them entirely, ii 

Dan Gordon lives in South Minneapolis where he doubles 
as a student and an aspiring ninja. He also publishes Dulu- 
th's Dark Underbelly, a zine about the underground history 
of Duluth. which can be purchased by sending an email to 
dgordon(cv,umn. edu. 

above: Soldiers teach civilians about military weapons at a conference for ttie America's Army video game 

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to the 

Defending Community WiFi 
from Verizon and tlie Telecom Giants 


Gwen Shaffer 

Tom Pokinko 

In an attempt to influence telecom regulations, phone and cable giants have 
hooked up federal lawmakers with nearly a half-billion dollars since 1998. Ve- 
rizon Communications alone contributed SI 02 million to elected officials who, 
frequently, pulled the plug on the competition. So it comes as no surprise to 
industry watchdogs that this former "Baby Bell" acted with megabit speed last 
year when Philadelphia Mayor John Street announced plans to provide affordable 
wireless Internet services to the entire city. 

Philadelphia is rolling out a plan to build a $10 million wireless 
broadband network this summer, charging subscribers a fraction of the 
prices set by the region's dominant broadband service providers Com- 
cast and Verizon. A low-cost w ireless network run by the city threatens 
to topple the local duopoly — and apparently that's scary even for an 
international corporation like Verizon, which earned $67.8 billion in 
operating revenues during 2003. 

The legislation signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in Novem- 
ber originally contained a provision that would bar local governments 
from providing telecommunications services for a fee. The language 
was buried in a complex 30-page bill drafted by industry lobbyists that 
gives telephone companies financial incentives to hasten the rollout of 
broadband networks (a deal that will net Verizon about $3 billion). 

But just days before a scheduled state Senate vote, Philadelphia 
wireless advocates discovered the provision. They began lighting up 
switchboards in Harrisburg. Media justice activists had paid scant at- 
tention to the bill earlier because it wasn't poised to come up for a 
floor vote in 2004, says Hannah Sassaman, program director for Pro- 
metheus Radio in Philadelphia. 

"It only started to move after Philadelphia officials made plans 
to create a WiFi network," she says. "Then legislators pushed the bill 
through during Thanksgiving, just before their recess, when they as- 
sumed no one was looking." 

Both local organizations (such as Media Tank and the Pennsylva- 
nia Public Interest Research Group) and the national groups Common 
Cause and MoveOn engaged in lobbying efforts. They sent out email 
alerts to members asking them to urge Gov. Rendell to veto H.B. 30. 

In response to the pressure, senators amended the bill to allow 
broadband services operating by Jan. 1 , 2006 to continue, which buys 
Philadelphia enough time to get its ambitious 135 square-mile WiFi 
project going. Some activists believe the compromise leaves every other 
municipality in the state high and dry, but Sassaman is confident. 

"The governor didn't veto what is clearly a crappy bill," she con- 
cedes. "But by making tens of thousands of phone calls, we did have 
an influence." When signing the bill, Rendell promised to work with 
any municipality interested in establishing its own telecom network. 
"So it wasn't just a win for Philadelphia," Sassaman says. 

Pennsylvania is the fifteenth state to bar or restrict municipali- 
ties from providing telecom services, and both Ohio and Nebraska 
arc considering similar laws. Nonetheless, the circumstances under 
which the legislation passed constitute "a watershed event," says Jef- 
frey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy 
in Washington. 

"Previously, telecom lobbyists trying to prevent communities 
from competing in broadband had fallen under the radar screen. Now 
people are asking; is the Internet a system to generate revenue for pri- 





vate companies or is it a global information utility that is core to our 

Pennsylvania State Rep. William Adolph, Jr. chairs the House 
Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy. He says he 
sponsored six public hearings on H.B. 30 during a 20-month period, 
"wiihout hearing a peep of concern" from local officials in Philadel- 
phia or any other municipality. 

it wasn't until activists fought the companion bill in the state 
Senate that Adolph realized they opposed restrictions being placed on 
municipalities, he says. 

■■.'\i the last minute, 1 received a copy of the amendment that was 
worked out. Prior to that, I'd never even heard of the WiFi issue," 
Adolph says. "The over-riding goal of H.B. 30 is to accelerate the de- 
ployment of broadband. If the city of Philadelphia can deploy a WiFi 
network, I have no problem with it." 

High-speed, wireless applications like the one planned for Phila- 
delphia have the potential to bridge the digital divide. They require 
minimal infrastructure investment and are comparatively inexpensive 
to operate. As WiFi — and soon WiMax — hotspots spread, the policy 
implications for both mass media access and freedom of speech could 
be huge. 

Philadelphia, where an estimated 60 percent of residents cur- 
rently lack broadband Internet access, is a prime example. Even if 
Comcast and Verizon ofl'ered broadband in these underserved commu- 
nities, low-income residents couldn't afford to shell out $50 a month 
to pay for it. 

Dianah Neff, Chief Information Officer for Philadelphia, says her 
goal is to keep monthly fees "below S20." She hopes to create a "blue- 
print" for tackling the information gap that other cities around the coun- 
tiy can emulate. "As CIO, my job is to watch emerging technologies 
and fuse them with the mayor's goals," Neff says. "Strong families and 
neighborhoods are key ingredients of the Street administration. So 1 be- 
gan thinking of a way to encourage economic development, overcome 
the digital divide and enhance quality of life for Philadelphians." 

Other major U.S. cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle 
and Dayton have announced plans to develop their own city wide WiFi 
networks. Today, wireless networks carry the same cachet as swanky 
sports stadiums and convention centers. Cities are betting they will 
help attract tech-savvy businesses, encourage tourism and project a 
hip image capable of wooing young professionals. 

Both Philadelphia and Atlanta plan to partner with private tele- 
com companies to manage day -to day operations of their WiFi net- 
works. And this prospect has some media reform proponents on edge. 
Activists in Philadelphia stress that they enthusiastically embrace all 
efforts to eliminate the digital divide. But they can't help worrying 
that once the city contracts out management of the initiative — Neff 
hopes to float a request for proposals this March — it will morph into 
simply another opportunity for corporate profits. 

"Will users be forced to interface with ads or a corporate homep- 
age?" wonders Wendy Hyatt, director of the Philadelphia Cable Ac- 
cess Coalition. "We can all receive content. But how can we add con- 
tent to the Web? The city needs to provide training along with the 

Verizon, Comcast and Internet Service Providers in other states 
have tried to stonewall paid services offered by cities around the 
country on the grounds that governments have an unfair competitive 
advantage. Obviously, municipalities can tap into public funds and 
they don't have to pay taxes. Also, the telecoms grumble, public sector 
projects are subject to fewer regulations. 

But James Bailer, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who represents 
local governments, says the industry argument "belies the facts." In 
reality, municipalities must compiv u ith the same state laws as private 
companies. Not to mention that private sector communications firms 
benelit from "billions of dollars of tax incentives," Bailer says. 

In Pennsvlvania. this is ccrtainlv the case. In December, just 

weeks after the state legislature passed the telecom bill, Philadelphia 
City Council members approved a S30 million grant for constmction 
of a downtown skyscraper that will sene as Comcast's headquarters. 

Even if state or federal lawmakers succeed in barring municipali- 
ties from building w ireless mesh clouds over their cities, the telecom 
giants will have a harder time blocking residents from taking matters 
into their own hands — or, more precisely, their own monitors and 
keyboards. Tan Vu manages the Digital Inclusion Program in West 
Philly. That initiative has given away 150 computers to community 
members over the past year, and operates a WiFi network used by 
about 100 low income web users who pay just S5 per month. 

"The state restrictions on competition are unfortunate," Vu says. 
"But at the same time, if individuals are determined to create com- 
munity networks, they can't be stopped." That's because — as scores 
of cash-strapped school districts, libraries, hospitals and non-profits 
around the country have already discovered — creating a WiFi net- 
work requires little more than a cast-off computer and a S25 satellite 
dish from Radio Shack. 

The "open access" facet of WiFi is what makes community wire- 
less initiatives genuinely revolutionary. The Federal Communications 
Commission regulates TV and radio broadcast interference by issuing 
licenses. Similarly, cable and phone companies own the infrastructure 
used to carry voice and media content. By contrast. WiFi users finally 
have an opportunity to customize the technology to fit their specific 

"With WiFi, government and industry restrictions are no longer 
necessary. The principal here is non-discrimination." says Dr. Mark 
Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America. 
Cooper characterizes WiFi hotspots in public spaces as "the sewers 
and streets of the 2V Century" because they are available for use by 
every citizen. 

Two years ago, a group of independent media activists began set- 
ting up a WiFi netw ork in Champaign Urbana, Illinois. "We knocked 
on doors and told residents we wanted to put an antenna on their roofs 
and give them free Internet access," says Ben Scott, a former Univer- 
sity of Illinois grad student. In June. Urbana council members chipped 
in SI 8,600 to fund expansion of the hotspots. The city now boasts 
a wireless Internet network that serves the entire downtown area for 
free, says Scott. 

This story is not unique. And as the WiFi movement catches on, 
incumbent broadband prov iders are certain to fight back with ev en more 
muscle and moolah. It is easy to see why these players are nervous. 
WiFi constitutes more than another form of competition. It could, even- 
tually, eliminate the need for DSL and cable modems altogether. 

"In the long-tenn. there's no reason consumers should fork over 
SI 00 a month for high-speed Internet." says Chester, of the Center for 
Digital Democracy. "The cable and phone giants want to control the 
broadband market, but that's got to change. ""A' 

Gwen Shaffer is a staff writer for the Philadelphia Weekly, where she 
covers local politics. Her work has appeatvd in The New Republic. The 
Nation. Columbia Journalism Review a/;(iE The Environmental Maga- 
zine. Comments may he e-mailed to gwenlshaffeiia comcast.nei. 

the revolution of 
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words Jonathan Lawson photos Josh Ayala 

What's wrong with radio? Everyone seems to 
have an answer. The oldest fonn of electronic 
mass communication is still the most ubiquitous, 
found in homes, cars, and businesses across the 
country — not to mention fields, forests, and street 
corners. Amidst an expanding array of media net- 
works with national and international reach — now 
including satellite radio and Internet broadcasting as 
well as TV and cable networks — radio retains a lo- 
cal character which is its last unique asset. 

At its theoretical best, the FCC promotes quahty radio 
broadcasting measured by the traditional standards of compe- 
tition, diversity, "locahsm," and accountability. Over two de- 
cades, however, large media owners and business associations 
have adeptly persuaded Congress and the FCC to sweep away 
many public protections, allowing large-scale private media 
owners to squeeze out local owners and wring millions in profits 
out of the public airwaves with minimal oversight or account- 
ability to local communities. 

These changes have impacted all forms of media but have 
taken hold most dramatically in radio. FCC Commissioner Mi- 
chael Copps recently described radio as "a very sick canary in 
the coal mine." Musicians hoping to get their music played on 
commercial FM face insurmountable hurdles. Music fans are 
unable to hear local bands. Local citizens scan the commercial 
FM dial in vain for local voices providing quality news report- 
ing. Radio employees face layoffs, voice-tracking, anti-union 
management, and reduced creative control. 

Still, many people within each of these groups care enough 
to ask whether radio can do a better job at serving local commu- 
nities with cultural and informational programming. Can radio 
be saved with better public policy? 

Fixing Radio Forum 

This question led an unusual coalition of music community ad- 
vocates, media reformers and local broadcasters in Seattle to 
hold a public forum focused entirely on Fixing Radio. The forum 
took place last February in Seattle's Experience Music Project, 
a building designed by Frank Gehry to resemble the carcass of 
a smashed guitar — a symbol, perhaps, of the train wreck radio 
has become in the eyes of many critical listeners and broadcast- 
ers alike. Organizers hoped, however, that the forum would be 
able to harness this criticism, drawing creative solutions — and 
policy proposals — out of popular discontent. 

left: Rapper/Recording artist Sir Mix-A-Lot speaking on a panel at the Fixing Radio forum. 




"There's a unique moment in historv' 
here in terms of the policy apparatus around 
radio, a broad consensus in Congress and at 
the FCC that radio consolidation has gone 
way too far," said Michael Bracy of the DC- 
based Future of Music Coalition, one of the 
Fixing Radio planners and a speaker on the 
first of two panels. "It now falls on us as citi- 
zens to go to policymakers, and say: "you've 
heard from the industry — Clear Channel, 
the National Association of Broadcasters — 
you"\e heard \\ hat they want from radio. This 
is what we want to happen with radio.'" 

The discussion that emerged over a long 
afternoon ranged considerably, reflecting the 
diverse backgrounds of the participants. Pan- 
elists included representatives from each of 
the sponsoring organizations: the media ac- 
tivist group Reclaim the Media, the northwest 
regional chapter of the Recording Academy, 
the Future of Music Coalition, and noncom- 
mercial modem rock station KEXR Com- 
mercial radio was represented too — by Phil 
Manning, program director of highly-rated 
Fntercom station KNDD "The End," and 
Frank Barrow, operations manager for Se- 
attle's black-owned radio group. Two Clear 
Channel representatives — an on-air host 
from Seattle urban station KUBE and an ex- 
ecutive — were originally scheduled to take 
part, but got cold feet at the last minute. Other 
participants represented public, community, 
Low-Power FM and satellite radio operations, 
and labor unions representing musicians and 
radio employees. 

Perhaps the most striking facet of the Fix- 
ing Radio discussion was the amount of shared 
frustration with contemporary commercial 
radio. Different panelists and constituencies 
saw different problems and different solutions 
— but all pointed to a single problem which 
overshadowed and fed into all others: the ste- 
roidal corporatism and massive consolidation 
w hich has transformed local radio. 

Media Consolidation 

The issue of ownership consolidation — and 
particularly its largest practitioner. Clear 
Channel — was the 80()-pound gorilla in the 
room throughout the forum. Deregulation 
of ownership caps allowed Clear Channel 
to rise from a 40-station regional chain to a 
1300-station international titan in just a few 
years, turning the brand into a kind of nation- 
al shorthand for a whole range of problems 
introduced or exacerbated by consolidation: 
reductions in local accountability and local 
content; expansion of barely legal payola or 
"pay-for-play" schemes; deceptive "voice 
irackmg " attacks on the collective bargaining 
rights of employees; near-monopoly control 
of advertising; and concert re\enucs in urban 
and rural areas. 

The removal of sensible ownership caps 
in l'W6 opened the door wide to these prob- 

lems. In addition to restoring the caps, Da\ id 
Meinert, regional president of the Recording 
Academy, proposes the remedy used to deal 
with anti-consumer monopoly in the telecom 
business: corporate breakups. "I'm not scared 
to go to a legislator and say, look, you need 
to break up Clear Channel. And you not only 
need to break them up, you need to make sure 
that radio station owners can't own concert 
venues and can't own newspapers." 

"I do not want to live in a world where 
Clear Channel ow ns all the radio stations in a 
city, the Seattle P-I [the local newspaper], and 
Channel 5 [television station]," Meinert con- 
tinued. "Already 50% of the people who get 
radio news get it from Clear Channel. Those 
are George Bush's friends — I'm not happy 
about that. You know, we're going to live in 
a really fucked up world if that happens, and 
we need to do something about it." This was 
months before Clear Channel announced that 
Fox News would become its official network- 
wide news provider — likely to further ex- 
pand both Clear Channel's news audience and 
the network's conservative slant. 

W hat's Really Indecent? 

All Fixing Radio panelists were instantly 
dismissive of the Congressional furor about 
broadcast indecency that has made a huge 
media splash since Janet Jackson's 2004 Su- 
per Bow 1 flash. "What's really indecent," said 
KBCS public affairs director Bruce Wirth, 
"is that we're focusing on [Howard Stem] 
and Janet Jackson's tit. when we should be 
focusing on more important problems... Clear 
Channel is coming out smelling like roses 
because they voluntarily pulled Stem from a 
handful of stations... These are the same sta- 
tions that were out there cheering the war that 
has wound up killing hundreds of Americans, 
not to mention Iraqi civilians." 

For Ann Chaitowitz, director for sound 
recordings at the American Federation of 
Television and Radio Artists (AFTR.'\). the 
flurry of calls to hike indecency fines brought 
up an additional set of concerns. Often, she 
said, radio companies like Clear Channel 
don't pay indecency fines themselves, in- 
stead passing them along to individual an- 
nouncers or even musicians. The practice is 
deeply ironic, as ratings-hungry commercial 
networks clearly place demands on hosts like 
Stem and Bubba the I.o\e Sponge to be as 
outrageous and olTensi\ e as possible, in their 
endless and craven pursuit of higher ratings 
and thus advertising revenue. Musicians, 
when producing their work, should not have 
to worr\ about the possibility of someda\ 
tacing censorship or fines if a DJ somewhere 
otTends a listener by playing their music. 

Of course, that only becomes a concern 
if an artist's music makes it onto the air at all. 
That is an increasingly difficult challenge 
for local musicians when programming de- 

cisions are made at distant corporate head- 
quarters, and the hurdles between artists and 
commercial airplay include controversial but 
widespread "tollbooth" practices involving 
the exchange of cash or services in exchange 
for a shot at airplay. For musicians and their 
advocates, such practices ought to be con- 
sidered basic ethical violations, as well as 
barriers to the normal development of our 
shared music culture. Meinert argues that, 
under current industry conditions, it would 
have been impossible for Nirvana and other 
Seattle bands to have broken nationally, be- 
cause local commercial rock stations no lon- 
ger have the freedom to build playlists based 
on ground-up trends, absent the backing of 
industry forces. 

Holdinji Broadcasters Accountable 

The airwaves, of course, belong to the pub- 
lic. Their use by commercial broadcasters, 
licensed, but free of charge, constitutes a tre- 
mendous public subsidy. In return for their 
use of the airwaves, each station is bound 
to serve the public interest in various ways. 
Each station must apply to the FCC every few 
years to renew their licenses. If the FCC de- 
termines that a station has failed to provide 
valuable public service to its local audience, 
it can lose its license. This, however, never 
happens — and station managers know it. 

"My personal opinion is that the renewal 
process is a sham." said KEXP manager Tom 
Mara. " I don't think it's too much to ask for a 
radio station to connect w ith its local commu- 
nity. The general manager of a station should 
walk into a room and be able to make a case 
to local organizations and local citizens why 
they should get that license again. 1 think the 
FCC ought to plav an increased role in that 
— but that assessment also needs to be done 
locally, so it's not just a matter of sending a 
bunch of forms to Washington DC." Sev- 
eral participants agreed that license renewals 
should not onlv be tougher, but conducted lo- 
cally, with public hearings and mechanisms 
allowing for real discussion of what a station 
should be doing for its community. 

Even some commercial broadcasters ex- 
pressed a wish for more articulate mechanisms 
for audience accountability. In commercial 
radio, profits are the ultimate bottom line. But 
for program directors it's the Arbitron ratings 
rather than profit loss statements that hang 
directly over their heads. KNDD program 
director Phil Manning used the Fixing Radio 
Fomm to do a little venting about what many 
see as a very flawed measure. "\\ hen half of 
mv damn listeners don't even fill out (the .Ar- 
bitron listener diaries] and be accountable for 
their airwaves, it disallows me from taking 
risks. It forces commercial radio to unfortu- 
nately be conservative. It forces us to have 
these silly-ass 22.^-song playlists." Manning 
pointed out that Arbitron s diarv system tends 


above: David Meinert of Fuzed Music and Ann Chaitovitz from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists engaged in a discussion at ttie FIxmg Radio forum. 

not to poll young listeners; "this is why you 
don't have youth-focused programming." 

"When you're ratings-driven," added 
KBCS's Bruce Wirth. "who gets left out? 
Where's the diversity in that system? There's 
only one African-American personality in 
Seattle FM radio today; that's crazy. 1 cant 
think of a Latino personality either" 

Low-Power and Community Radio 

True community broadcasting, where it ex- 
ists, offers the public direct ways to kick out 
the jams of mainstream. Wirth's KBCS is 
an excellent example — a college-licensed 
station with an independent operations staff 
committed both to fielding a diverse on-air 
staff of local volunteers and training an ex- 
panding pool of community journalists for 
the station's local public affairs programs. 
"Community radio moves beyond localism," 
said Wirth. "It's about training community 
members to make their own radio, getting 
their voices on the air, not censored by some 
production staff or program directors." 

In some areas of the country, Low-Pow- 
er FM offers an opportunity for community 
groups, religious and civic organizations to 
launch their own noncominercial radio station 
with little cost. Unfortunately, full nation- 
wide availability of LPFM has been delayed 
for years by opposition from the commercial 
broadcasting lobby and from National Public 
Radio. Activist groups including the Future 

of Music Coalition and Reclaim the Media 
are hopeful that legislation expanding LPFM 
will be reintroduced in Congress this spring. 

More People's Hearings 

The best ideas from the two-day Fixing Radio 
Forum were eventually distilled into a con- 
cise set of 32 policy recommendations, pub- 
lished as the Seattle Statement on Radio. The 
document has since been put to work in vari- 
ous ways — submitted to the FCC as part of a 
national inquirv' into localism, used as a tool 
for lobbying members of Congress, and serv- 
ing as a template for media codes of conduct 
and other statements of principles. 

Organizers also hope that their idea of 
holding a forum like this won't stop in Seat- 
tle. "This should happen all over the country." 
exclaimed a young man from the audience at 
the end of the Fixing Radio discussion. Sev- 
eral forum panelists had also taken part in one 
of the previous year's FCC hearings on own- 
ership — but none of those formal hearings 
generated either the ranging, informal dia- 
logue or the creative planning that emerged 
from the Fixing Radio Forum. 

While the Seattle fonmi took a hopeful 
look into radio's future, both the event and the 
resulting Seattle Statement left a whole range 
of important questions unexamined. When 
digital broadcasting dramatically increases 
the number of stations that can coexist on the 
radio dial, will local community groups and 

entrepreneurs have the opportunity to launch 
new local radio stations, or will existing 
broadcasters simply control more channels? 
Should localized programming on national 
satellite radio be encouraged or prohibited? 
How should the public interest be protected 
as digital networks continue to transform 
electronic media? 

These and many other questions point 
out the need for many more public conver- 
sations about fixing media — and more lo- 
cal manifestoes on progressive media policy. 
While 2005 will see the FCC and Congress 
hold more such hearings in DC and around 
the country, the Fixing Radio Foruin showed 
that there's no reason for a community to wait 
around for them to arrive. Reflecting on his 
experience organizing around the previous 
year's FCC hearing, band inanager-tumed- 
activist David Meinert laid it out simply: 
"Going into that event we were told by a lot 
of people that the regulations were just going 
to be lifted, and that we had no chance. We 
ignored all that, we thought we could make a 
difference, and we made a difference. We can 
make a difference." "ii 

Jonathan Lawson is co-director of Reclaim 
the Media in Seattle and editor oj the Seattle 
Statement on Radio, which can he read in its 
entirely at 
ment. For more information on the issues, see and 




'i-^-f*^ :\^ 

Demanding More of Cable Monopolies 



In 2002, Comcast said it would stop moni- 
toring and recording customers' use of the 
Internet — and then it started charging people 
for browsing the web "too much." 

In 2003, Comcast said it would protect 
customers' Social Security numbers, credit 
histories, and phone numbers from other 
corporations it works with — but rather than 
change its business operations, it simply re- 
worded its privacy policy. 

In 2004, Comcast said it would improve 
customer service and respond more quickly to 
complaints — but, according to market ana- 
lysts J.D. Power and Associates, its customer 
satisfaction levels were below the national 
industry standard for the third year in a row. 

And now a contingent of media, labor, 
consumer, and social justice groups are in 
place to "demand more" of the "on demand" 
cable firm. 

Comcast had humble beginnings. In 
1963, three men bought a 1,200-subscriber 
cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, calling 
it American Cable Systems. Through numer- 

ous mergers and acquisitions, the company 
increased its subscriber base across the U.S. 
By 1969, the cable provider had set up its per- 
manent home in Philadelphia and changed its 
name to Comcast Corporation. Now a multi- 
million dollar industry establishment, Com- 
cast is the country's leading cable provider, 
boasting more than 68,000 employees and 
21 million cable customers in 35 states. It is 
also the country's largest broadband service 
provider. This market power has allowed the 
company's rates to rise more than three times 
the rate of inflation. 

In the City of Brotherly Love, 75 percent 
of all cable subscribers pay monthly bills to the 
hometown giant. These days, however, there 
is not a whole lot of "brotherly love" between 
Philly residents and the cable monopoly, due 
to complaints about the company's treatment 
of customers and employees. Fortunately for 
Comcast, its customers ha\e feu altemati\es. 
As a result of market agreements brokered 
with the city, Comcast is the only cable pro- 
vider available to its customers. 

Important Media Ownership Rules: 
Past, Present, and Future 

Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Restriction: Enacted in 1975, this rule prohibits 
a single company from ownmg a newspaper and television station in the same market. The 
Bush administration is trying to repeal this rule for large- and medium-sized markets. 

Radio/TV Cross-Ownership Restriction: The original 1970 rule prevented a single compa- 
ny from owning a radio and television station in the same market. That rule was weakened 
in 1996 to allow for a company to own one of each in small markets, and one television 
station and multiple radio stations in large markets. 

National TV Ownership Rule: In 1941. this rule put numerical restrictions on the number 
of television stations a company could own. It has since been amended and now prevents 
a single company from owning enough television stations to reach more than 35 percent of 
the nation's homes. The Bush administration is trying to change the cap to 45 percent. 

Local TV Multiple Ownership Rule: This rule prevents a single company from owning mul- 
tiple television stations in a single market, with some exceptions for very large markets. 
The Bush administration is trying to weaken this rule, allowing a single company to own up 
to three stations in many markets. 

Dual Television Network Rule: Today, this rule prohibits one television network (such as 
ABC, CBS. NBC, or FOX) from buying up another. The Bush administration upheld this rule 
in a recent regulatory review. 

Local Radio Ownership Rule: Companies had been limited to owning no more than 40 
radio stations nationwide. This nationwide cap was lifted in 1996, and a company may 
now own up to eight radio stations in a single market. Viacom's Infinity Radio Network now 
owns 180 stations and Clear Channel Communications owns 1300 stations. It's hard to 

tj Barbara J. Isenberg 

Seeking to pressure Comcast to respond 
fairly to the complaints of its customers and 
employees. Media Tank, a local advocacy and 
media literacy organization, launched the Phil- 
adelphia Grassroots Cable Coalition ("the Co- 
alition") in June 2004. The Coalition started 
by seeking out organizations that not only had 
a bone to pick \\ ith Comcast, but the backbone 
to stand up to one of the largest businesses in 
the entire region. Today, the Coalition com- 
prises the Coalition of Labor Union Women, 
the Communications Workers of America. Jobs 
with Justice, the Kensington Welfare Rights 
Union, the Philadelphia Community' Access 
Coalition, and the Pennsylvania Public Inter- 
est Research Group (PennPIRG). Each group 
brings difTercnt constituents and mobilizing 
tools to the table, helping to work toward com- 
mon goals while retaining the individual focus 
of each organization. 

"The goal of the Grassroots Cable Coali- 
tion is to educate the public and bring pres- 
sure to bear on Comcast," says Media Tank's 
executive director, Inja Coates. "We're trying 
to create a way for people to feel more em- 
powered in dealing with their cable compans. 
The ditTerent lenses of each group brings 
people in at ditTerent points of interest." 

Beth McConnell, executive director of 
PennPIRG, says she thinks it is important for 
smaller groups to join in the battle to fight 

Hatlif ip.iMis ,t[Hi oDsetveri nl liip r.iMy idLc the Clolhespin sculptuie m 
Ironl o( Comcast's headquarters across from Phdadelphias City Hall photo 

courlesy Media Unk 



Inside the Philadelphia Grassroots Cable Coalition 

Alec Meltzer. Media Tank board member, speaks Photo courtesy of Media Tank 

such a large corporation. "We see this as an opportunity to hold Comcast account- 
able for its outrageous prices and shoddy customer service, and to hold city and state 
politicians accountable for giving Comcast tax breaks," McConnell says. "As a mo- 
nopoly, Comcast has an obligation to serve the public interest. We'd like to see the 
corporation immediately lower rates for all customers in Pennsylvania and improve 
their service." 

The Coalition's first step was coming together to issue a "Code of Conduct" 
for Comcast, which it made public at a press conference outside the corporation's 
headquarters in October 2004. The document details the Coalition members" prob- 
lems with the company and suggests actions it should take to reform itself Calling 
on Comcast to show a "greater level of corporate responsibility," the code demands 
lower lates, respect for customers' privacy, recognition of union and labor concerns, 
support for public access television, customer choice of Internet scrv ice providers, 
and afTordablc access to information technology for all people. 

"The main problem with Comcast is accountability," says Joy Butts of the 
Kensington Welfare Rights Union. The Philadelphia campaign's next steps include 
working with City Council to organize a public input committee to advise future ne- 
gotiations with the cable giant. The hope is that this type of activism will convince 
Comcast to deal with the Coalition demands and to start making real-world conces- 

Part of what makes Media Tank's work so unique is its focus on grassroots 
efforts. Instead of the majority of the "real" work happening in a large, centralized 
office with smaller duties being delegated to the grassroots, the Coalition is made up 
of numerous local organizations working together to set their own collective agenda. 
The Coalition then works in conjunction with similar localized efforts in other com- 

Currently, there are other grassroots cable projects underway in Seattle, San 
Francisco, Chicago, and elsewhere. The campaigns all network in a way that the 
experiences and expertise gained at the local level can be coordinated nationally. 

"Each city's success is translatable to another's," says Coates, who adds, "Of 
course, because Philly is home to Comcast, we have an extra role being in the 'belly 
of the beast.' We are just at the beginning of what we're doing and where we can go 
with this." ir 

Barbara J. Isenberg is an intern at Media Tank in Philadelphia. PA and is completing a 
journalism degree at Temple University. She can he reached at 

Who Benefits from Media 
Ownership Rules? 

Journalists: When there are competing news outlets in 
a given market, there are more jobs for reporters. Me- 
dia consoHdation allows owners to cut newsroom staff, 
having one reporter do the job of several. That adds 
uncompensated responsibilities and hassles for work- 
ing journalists, and is even worse for those looking for 

Artists: When media companies merge, their negotiat- 
ing power over independent producers, freelance writ- 
ers, cartoonists, and others increases dramatically. The 
creative control and compensation that people in these 
creative positions can command is greatly reduced. 

Other Media Workers: Much as with journalists, the 
technicians, printers, administrators, and other men 
and women who keep broadcast stations and news- 
papers running find their positions become increas- 
ingly "redundant" as their employers merge with one 

Small Businesses: When there is a wide range of com- 
peting, local media outlets in a given market, small 
businesses can find easy access to affordable advertis- 
ing. With media consolidation, preference is given to 
transnational corporations that can purchase national 
advertising packages. 

Political Candidates: Political candidates for local 
races will have an increasingly difficult time attracting 
unpaid news coverage as local outlets disappear due 
to consolidation. This is especially true for third party 

Nonprofits and Activists: Advocates for the environ- 
ment, children, consumer justice, and other progressive 
causes will face more difficulties garnering local media 
coverage when there are fewer media outlets competing 
for a story. 

Subscribers: The more concentrated media becomes, 
the more it is a seller's market. Prices for cable sub- 
scribers, newspaper subscribers, and Internet users will 
continue to rise. 

Communities: As local newsrooms become smaller and 
smaller due to consolidation, and stations find synergy 
by piping in cheap "content" for their news shows, cov- 
erage of local issues will suffer That's bad whether 
you care about the corruption in city hall or just want to 
know the score of the local high school soccer game. 
-Arthur Stamoulis 


Norman Ball 
illustratioi Brandon Bauer 




Television broadcasting has been dying a protracted death 
for many years, it's just that nobody bothered to notice. The 
parent networks NBC, ABC. CBS, and FO.X will surely survi\e, 
albeit in a significantly diminished form. But the man\ small af- 
filiate stations that dot the country, some no more than mom and 
pop concerns, face uncertain futures. No longer gilded fortresses 
v\ ith licenses to print money, over-the-air broadcasters must face 
increased competition fVom many sources, most notably cable and 
direct broadcast satellite (DBS), like Rupert Murdoch's DirectTV. 
Quite simply, the affiliates have failed, over twenty years, to carve 
out a "post-broadcast" identity for themselves. Instead they have 
assented to being carried on non-broadcast cable and DBS feeds, 
inviting a sort of strategic euthanasia. 

With the meteoric rise of cable and satellite television, it is 
conceivable that the Tiffany Network and the Glorious Peacock 
could one day command all the cache — and \ iewership — of, say. 
Food TV. But only if Peter Jennings can \s hip up a good souffle. 
And in case anyone hasn't noticed. Comcast, the largest cable sys- 
tem (and the largest content buyer) has been flexing its purchasing 
power of late, negotiating bruising deals with its providers. You 
see, content may be what draws the eyeballs to the T\' screen, but 
the pipe still wears the pants. 

During its formative years, cable relied hca\il\ on broadcast 
network programming. Appropriately, the mdustry "s focus was on 
building out its cable infrastructure. Television content origination 
was a lu.xury reserv ed for the cash-rich broadcasters. For a cable 
system, the local network atViliate was the equivalent of the an- 
chor store at a mall. It prov ided a critical mass around which lesser 
venues could cluster. In time, those ""lesser venues " (Discovery, 
Animal Planet. The History Channel. HBO. etc.) grew up to com- 
mand brand name stature in their ow n right. The original consumer 
selling point was not cable programming, but improved reception 
of over-the-air stations via coaxial cable. Believe it or not, manv 
people liked their local programming, so much so that they were 
willing to pay a few bucks to get a better picture via cable. 

But now the training wheels are off and it's the cable guv 
holding the remote. A content originator in its own right, cable is 
now makmg the networks prove their value — what a nide depar- 
ture from the days w hen cable begged pemiission to carrv the local 
network affiliates! While cable began life as a redundant delivery 
system, today it's the broadcasters who face possible death bv re- 

.\ mere 10 percent of today's TV watchers take their program- 
ming directly from a broadcasting source (as opposed to 80 percent 
in 1985). Most receive their "over-the-air" network content v ia ca- 
ble (80 percent) or DBS ( 10 percent). This represents a staggering 
decline. nt>t to mention a perilous end-run. for the broadcasters. 
Even though most people have abandoned free broadcast T\ for 
pay alternatives, simply hav ing the free T\ option lends some pnc- 
ing discipline to cable and satellite providers. Without 
TV. pay T\' subscription rates w ill ceilainlv continue their upward 
trend, and at a redoubled rate 

But aside from their role m controlling cable prices, why 
would anvone care about the poor atTiliate stations.' Well, they're 

the last leg of the mainstream media land- 
scape with any "community service" impulse 
left. Affiliate stations' local TV news pro- 
grams are still most Americans' go-to source 
for regional events and news. Radio consoli- 
dation succeeded in killing community radio 
and enshrining Howard Stem. Newspapers' 
circulation numbers are on a fast sprint to 
oblivion. Think public access television is the 
ultimate solution? Ask anyone at your local 
cable company's public access channel what 
Viacom and Cox think of their "public duty" 
to carry those tacky little citizen shows. They 
hate it. and would lo\c nothing more than to 
commandeer the channel for Home Improve- 
ment: The Basement Network. Despite all the 
problems with local TV news shows, these 
programs are one of the only easily accessible 
sources of information on what's locally. Call 
me paranoid, but it almost seems like some- 
one doesn't want us to know what's going on 
in our own neighborhoods. 

What with their exposes on last night's 
Survivor episode and their taking fifteen 
minutes to acknowledge that, yes, in fact, it 
is going to rain tomorrow, it may be tempt- 
ing to say good riddance to the local news- 
casts. The case that much of what is broad- 
cast on local television news is racist, sex- 
ist, classist, heterosexist, and of a generally 
poor quality is not too hard to make, but that 

doesn't mean that local television doesn't 
provide some benefit. 

Let's start with one example. The trag- 
edy of war becomes suddenly more "authen- 
tic" when we learn about the young guy in 
the neighboring town getting killed. Hey, he 
went to the same mall we did. By contrast, the 
faceless casualty numbers that flash across 
national media outlets have a disembodied, 
obligatory quality. I believe we're talking here 
about the abstracted nature of numbers versus 
"bringing it on home." Local news excels at 
putting a face on the larger event. Whereas 
globalism wants only faceless masses troll- 
ing the aisles of Walmart — the less we know 
about one another, the better. 

When the big guys think about local- 
based programs they get retum-on-invest- 
mcnt indigestion; just think of all those mul- 
tiplicative production costs! Bean counters 
to the bone, they want to shove one program 
down the pipe. After all, why create numer- 
ous versions of crap when you can get away 
with one big monolithic piece of crap? And 
don't give me all that "global village" hooie. 
Like most Americans, my stomping grounds 
still consist of a 30-square mile patch — and 
1 want to know something about it! 

There is still some hope for the affiliates 
— if they can show some strategic gumption. 
The future, should they seek to have one, lies 

in multicasting. Using the digital broadcast 
spectrum each current station has been as- 
signed as part of the high-definition television 
(HDTV) transition, a cluster of digital broad- 
cast channels could be offered regionally, in 
effect creating a localized "mini-cable" sys- 
tem in a crisp, clear digital broadcast format. 
The parent networks oppose multicast- 
ing and plan to feed the affiliates with a single 
HDTV signal, so the affiliates would be on 
their own to create this sort of service. But if 
they don't take advantage of the one real ben- 
efit they provide to viewers — localism — lo- 
cal TV stations will soon become one more 
of a long line of community-based resources 
that appears on the brink of extinction. It is up 
to the local broadcasters, and the local media 
advocates, to ensure that a significant space 
for localism is car\ed out in the brave new 
digital world, it 

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Nothing in my two weeks in the West Bank was as expected. The hor- 
rors were more horrific and the oppression more oppressive than I 
could have ever imagined. Hearing a mother whose son was shot dead 
while standing on a sidewalk; walking through the rubble of newly- 
demolished homes; seeing soldiers shoot at boys throwing stones at the 
Apartheid Wall; visiting the town of Jayyous where said wall separates 
residents from their farmland; or witnessing countless other atrocities 
that should not be imagined, let alone experienced — the struggle 
seemed hopeless. Yet amidst the horror, oppression, and inhumanity, 
a vibrant, revolutionary poster and public art movement endures, with 
the explicit goal of bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of a people 
and the land they still call Palestine. 

Walking down Jerusalem's alleys, or the streets of the West Bank — whether in Ramallah, 
Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth, or wherever, it is certain: the art of resistance is everywhere. It's 
as I imagine the poster-adorned streets of Cuba looked in the '60s. or Chile's mural movement 
in the '70s. or even perhaps lagged New York subway trains flying by in the late '70s and early 
'80s. Whether calling for the release of political prisoners, an end to the construction of the 
Apartheid/Annexation Wall, or mourning another unnecessary death, these images give artists 
creative control over an ever-changing, asphyxiating landscape. 

With the new, nine-meter high, concrete incarnation of the Apartheid Wall, symbols of 
Israeli occupation are increasingly visible across the landscape. The Wall snakes through hill- 
sides, sometimes encircling entire villages, separating sister cities, and in one instance even 
surrounding a single home on all sides. Emblematic of Israeli occupation, the Wall is more than 
an obtrusive- visual element; it represents an oppressive force that controls both people and 
land. While much of the wall has been landscaped on the Israeli side, the better to meld into 
the surrounding countryside, it has been left a stark, menacing reminder of occupation on the 
Palestinian side. But wherever the Wall goes up, so do images condemning it. 

words and photos Samira Yamin 

Representing the Everyday 

Amongst the various public art forms, post- 
ers are by far the most prevalent, especially 
on the walls of high-traflfic streets in heavily 
populated cities. In Ramallah, posters liter- 
ally cover the streets and every conceivable 
surface, with messages ranging from memo- 
rializing the life of Edward Said, to advertis- 
ing a parade for Arun Gandhi to still others 
demanding the release of political prisoners. 
Some are worn and withered, their colors 
faded and their words illegible. But constant 
postering quickly replaces old cracked imag- 
es with fresh ones, adding to the palimpsest 
of messages that bolster the walls of virtually 
every building in Palestine. 

Posters are the most visible public art 
form for a few pragmatic reasons. As opposed 
to murals or graffiti, they are cheap and easy 
to reproduce and distribute. Taken as a whole, 
they record and direct the energy of the street, 
preserving the minutiae of daily events, 
and thereby protecting against what Carol 
Wells of the Center for the Study of Political 
Graphics calls historical amnesia. "Posters," 
she says, "are the collective memory of the 
oppressed." Because the general population 
has no access to mainstream media, posters 
serve to empower and inform, as an alterna- 
tive outlet through which the surrogate voice 
of the people can reverberate throughout the 

Most common are shaheed, or martyr, 
posters, commemorating the lives of those 




killed while fighting, or as a result of military 
action. Generally, images of shouhiula serve 
a dual purpose of grieving and immortaliz- 
ing. Family members display framed photos 
of those lost during resistance in the home, 
and show them regularly during the storytell- 
ing process, connecting the narration to its 
human essence. This dual function manifests 
itself in posters as well, where a picture of 
the resistance fighter is accompanied by his 
name and a short description of his life story, 
or of his efforts at combating the occupation, 
along with how he died. Some posters depict 
children who were killed by the IDF, includ- 
ing a description of the events leading up to 
their deaths. Stenciled images of shonhaJci 
can also be found throughout the West Bank. 
Organizations also produce posters to 
spread news about their campaigns to docu- 
ment and bring an end lo human rights \ iola- 
tions. Al Haq, a Ramallah-based human rights 
organization, recently began a poster campaign 
promoting their documentary. The SpiJer's 
H'eh. These posters, printed on much higher 
quality paper with a restricted palate of black, 
white and red, illustrate the phrase "Collective 
Punishment is a Crime," and feature images 
of mass arrests, house demolitions, movement 
restriction, property damage and (he Apartheid 
Wall. The Jerusalem coalition, Palestinian Fn- 
vironmental NCiOs Network (PFNGON), cre- 
ated a similar poster series in conjunction with 
their campaign lo resist the Wall. These posters 
were made specifically tor PFNGON by inter- 
national artists and come in several languages. 
They depict the Wall and either its etTects on 
people and the land, or alternately, acts of re- 
sistance thai resuli in liic Wall's destruction. 

rajj;;in<» the Icrrilories 

Like posters, grafliti and stencils line high- 
iralTic streets, but are also found throughout 
less urban areas. Fspecially common is the 

increasing amount of graffiti branding the 
Apartheid Wall with declarations of outrage 
at this symbol of occupation. The portion of 
the Wall which encircles the city of Qualqui- 
lya is a popular place for internationals to 
scrawl solidarity messages. On its ominous 
surface, one encounters declarations of out- 
rage and solidarity: "Retoumez la Terre au 
Palestiniens" ("Give the land back to Pal- 
estinians") or, more simply, "Shame." The 
spray-painted messages barely reach a third 
of the way up, further emphasizing the Wall's 
monstrous height. One of the most striking 
sites, along the portion of the Wall separat- 
ing the cities of Abou Deis and Fizaria from 
Jerusalem, bears a beautiful landscape image 
of Jerusalem as viewed through the bars of a 
prison window. 

Palestinian grafliti, like its more high- 
profile European and American counterparts, 
functions as a sort of branding or reclaim- 
ing of physical space. Tagging, in itself an 
act of defiance, is further emphasized in the 
contentious context of military occupation. 
Unlike American and European graffiti art, 
it is highly nationalistic and places less im- 
portance on the aesthetics of script. Common 
are paragraphs of Arabic writing condemning 
the Wall, or occupation in general, covering 
entire sides of buildings. Crude paintings of 
Palestinian flags, illegal until Oslo, can also 
be found throughout Jerusalem and the West 
Bank. This branding is a simple act of recla- 
mation that goes hand in hand u ith continu- 
ing to call the entire land Palestine. 

One ubiquitous Bethlehem troupe. Jesh, 
tags its name, intertuined wilh ihe Palestin- 
ian flag, throughout the city and suburbs. In 
addition to their grafliti, they also commonly 
use stencils. Various Palestinian heroes. Che 
Guevara or the shape of pre-l')48 Palestine, 
are stenciled onto city walls, accompanied by 
an image of llioir name as a way of signing 
the work. 

.Murals: Building on the Founda- 

Murals are the least common form of public 
art and serve a different purpose, tending to 
be collective projects as opposed to indi\ id- 
ual works, and monumental, in every sense 
of the word. They are commemorative and 
enduring, creating an air of permanence not 
found in posters, w hich tear and fade, or graf- 
fiti, which is often washed away or painted 
over. They are also removed from graffiti and 
postering campaigns in that that they arc not a 
fomi of guerrilla art. Thoroughly planned, te- 
diously executed, they tend to promote com- 
munity involvement and steadfast resistance 
rather than immediate action and indi\ idual 

In Deheisha Refugee Camp, murals 
are especially prevalent, covering the walls 
near the entrance and in the cultural center's 
stairwell. These murals recall life before oc- 
cupation. One depicts the Palestinian flag as 
a piece of land, with the names of Deheisha 
residents' hometowns painted around it. In- 
side, other murals show cities from which 
residents were exiled upon the 1948 found- 
ing of Israel and subsequent wars, as well as 
activities such as glass-blow ing and farming, 
which displacement now prevents them from 
doing. These murals are somewhat nostalgic 
of life before occupation, keeping hope alive 
that Deheisha residents will one day return to 
the homes they loved and the activities the\ 
once enjoyed. 

Especially powerful is a mural in 
Mas'ha painted on the Apartheid Wall sur- 
rounding the Hani Amer family home on all 
four sides. This was painted by the children 
of the house with help from the International 
Women's Peace Service (IWPS), depicting 
flowers, birds, children and hillsides. In a 
profound act of creative resistance, these chil- 
dren turned an otherwise sobering svmbol of 
occupation into a can\ as to display w hat little 
innocence they struggle to hold on to. 

The accumulation of images plastered 
throughout the West Bank transforms the en- 
\ ironment. acting as a reclamation of the land 
o\er w hich Palestinians are otherw ise power- 
less. Whereas the Apartheid Wall is an obtru- 
sive visual symbol of occupation throughout 
the already repressive landscape, public art 
returns creative control to Palestinian hands. 
When I returned to Los Angeles, a good 
friend told me that as long as there is resis- 
tance, there is hope, and that there will once 
again be a free Palestine. If art is any marker 
of the .strength of resistance. I would dare lo 
hope thai I w ill live to see that Palestine. "A- 

Stiinira can he rvac/wJ m 

bv JBrBfTIV Smith T^'*^^^' y°" ^'a\k into the front door of the lobby. You sign the visitor book. You put all of 
±. your personal belongings into a locker. You join a small group that is escorted down a 
hallway that is sterile and bright. You reach a door. You hear a loud unlocking sound and the 
door opens from seemingly nowhere. Your group is escorted into a small room the size of a 
large elevator. The door locks behind you. For a split second you don't know if you are get- 
ting out. Then another door opens and you are allowed to leave. You enter into a larger room 
that reminds you of a middle school cafeteria, except for the small booths with phones on one 
side of the room. You are here to see a '"performance." There is a makeshift stage with props, 
a set. and lights. There arc scats for an audience, but you are in a jail. You are here to see a 
"play" performed by inmates, but not just any play. By the end of the evening, the realities 
and complexities of what is funneling young men and women into a cycle of poverty, violence, 
drug abuse, family dysfunction, emotional exile, and eventually, prison, will be revealed to a 
stunned audience of community members, prison ofTficials, and fellow prisoners, and it will be 
done in a way that is awe inspiring, beautiful, and revolutionary. 

The Performance Project began in 2000 as collaboration between two artists, Aimee 
Dowling and Julie Lichtenberg, and eight men who were incarcerated at the minimum security 
Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, located in Northampton, MA. Between 2000 
and 2003 the Performance Project has produced four original works of theater and movement: 
Not So Veiy Far From Here, 59 Places, Works In Progress, and Counting the Minutes. The 
Performance Project is part of a larger program at the jail called Lifeskills, which also includes 
music, art, and mural making. "It was designed to establish and teach skills that would enhance 
someone's ability to live independently on the outside, hopefully in a crime-free environment," 
says Sheriff Robert Garvey. 

The performances are a product of life stories, developed through improvisational ex- 
ercises held over the course of several weeks. Stories of addiction, abandonment, isolation, 
disappointment, anger, happiness, desperation, rage. The group then identifies common themes 
in their stories and develop scenes and choreography through the improvisations. The improvi- 
sations are then videotaped, transcribed, and shaped into a script. From there, the group reads 

continued next page 


the scenes, critiques, and collectively re-works the script. Ultimately, the 
participants each communicate their story not as singular isolated experi- 
ences, but as stories woven together w ilh the experiences of other group 
members, and crafted into a whole. The finished piece is then performed 
over several nights inside and, more recently, outside the jail. 

Part of what makes this experiment in prison therapy and art 
unique is that its content raises challenging questions for its audience 
and society at large, as the process of its production helps challenge, 
counsel, and heal many of those who participate. "What role does so- 
ciety play in all of this?" asks Pam Bardslcy, the first female meniber 
of the company. "Society absolutely plays a role. It played a role 
before, while, and after someone's incarcerated. I guess where I'm at 
today is that I've become accountable for me, now I want society to 
start becoming accountable for society. In this project we can bring 
out some messages about that." 

What is also a unique trait of the project is its relationship to the 
audience. Be they fellow 




prisoners or members 
of the outside commu- 
nity, many of the issues 
central to these perfor- 
mances raise questions 
pertinent to individuals- 
at-risk, and the commu- 
nity of which they're a 
part — but on a highly 
personal level. "The 
work that we're doing 
right now is not asking 
people to look at issues 
and ideas," says artistic 
director Julie Lichten- 
berg, "it's asking audi- 
ence members to hear 
about people's life ex- 
periences and hopefully 
see connections in their 
own lives." 

"It's allowing us a 
voice, it's shining a light 
on our darkness," says 
Felix Vasquez. a recent 
addition to the group. 
"As an audience mem- 
ber, I felt a voice where 
I thought there was no 
voice. A lot of it brought 
back some painful mem- 
ories, and at the same V ^ 

time it brought back a 

sense of peace to know that it wasn't hidden... Here it is before my 
eyes, the same things I used to do." When he was ten years old, Felix's 
mother was a prostitute and drug user, while he sold drugs to put food 
on the table. When his pent-up frustration brought him to the depart- 
ment of Social Ser\ices & the Department of Youth Services looking 
for help, they turned him away, saying that they couldn't help him 
because he hadn't cominillcd a crime. "I was lost and I was crying 
out for help, nobody wanted to help me. and here I am with a gang, 
a group of people who by all standards is negative and this and that, 
but there is a unity that I didn't find at home. There's somebody who 
can hug me and say 'I love you.' even though he's gonna say, 'let's 
go do some drugs, let's go shoot at those people." But there was that 
righteous love. [In the Perfbnnance Project] we try to say 'you don't 
have to let it sit in you and softly kill you. you can let it out in the fonn 
of expressing yourself artistically'" 

Walk with me 

I dare you to. 
Walk with me? 

I rather you run with the truth 

It might just see you through 
Walk with me in this darkness 
Come! Walk with me in spite of 

lack of light 
Keep walking, what's wrong when 

Nothing is ever RIGHT 
Walk with me through these alleys 
at night 

It's all right gunshots bring light 

To the nights under streetlights 
Walk with me, or 
Keep Running 

Some things will never be right 
Walk with me, feel my misery 
Run with me. I show you loyalty 
Run quickly and escape my tragedies 
Walk with me through these 

murky waters 
I can see clearly my only memory 
Tragically is of Pain & Agony, 

they got the best of me; 

unfortunately the only people 
Who will always walk with me are my 
Dead friends & enemies (Pete Rock. 

MigMoney. Miguel Fanu, Pocholo, 

Joey M, jonny Blaze Sylvia. Mexicano. 

Loose. Rest In Peace). 

-Felix Vasquez 2004 

The personal connection that the performers have with the mate- 
rial is central to understanding the impact that this work has on both 
the viewer and performer. "Ten years ago I would have seen this proj- 
ect as a way to merge my commitments to working for social justice 
with being an artist, but now the project is far more personal," says 
Lichtenberg. "I grew up with stories of sun i\al, family stories. Par- 
ticularly stories of my mother and grandmother who were in hiding 
and imprisoned during WWII in Nazi-occupied France. I realized that 
the personal connection in this work for me is (in understanding] how 
various forms of societal oppression contribute to difl'erent forms of 
incarceration or imprisonment — specifically racism." 

The reaction from the local authorities has been positive. "The 
first time we put on a play here and invited the public in to view [it], 

I thought it would be disastrous, but we'\e done it several times now 
and people look forward to it. The first time we had a play 1 sat in the 
audience, and I watched the parents of some of the inmates come in 
and the inmates themselves after the play was being almost like S* and 
6"' grade kids after an elementary school performance." says SherifT 
Garvey. "They were so enthused and so proud of what they had done." 
Garvey also recognizes other benefits beyond personal satisfaction. 
"It encourages a connect with the outer community and the institution. 
We are a part of the community." 

So w hat is next for the project'.' In Jul\ 2002. inmates interested 
in working together beyond the jail joined w ith other local artists to 
fonn a non-profit organization called The Performance Company. The 
goal is to take the work being done inside the jail and attempt to reach 
a larger audience outside of the pri.son population. 

A mentoring program, run by current members of the Perfor- 
mance Company, has also been established to help new members fresh 
out of jail deal with the difficult issues of relapse, recidivism, and 
housing and job issues. Three of the members, including Felix, are 
focusing on working with youth at risk through various youth empow- 
erment organizations and DYS. 

"(We want to) allow these kids, before it's too late, a way of ar- 
tistically show ing their anger, even if it's poetry, acting, or draw ing. 
or art. Allowing them the chance to create something beautiful out of 
the ugliness.... I see this as being a revolutionary movement, being 
a new way of theater, a new forum of art. I think this is going to go 
a long way. it might take us 2-3 years, whatever, but I'm in it for the 
long haul, I ain't turning back."" 

The vehicle of theater and movement is a way to \ iscerally correct 
the often skewed perception Americans hav e of what prisons and the 
people who inhabit them are like. During a performance by The Perfor- 
mance Company, the inmates and artists ask us to feel their happiness, 
their pain, their slmggle. their rush. To not only passivelv watch, but 
to engage in the process, and to walk with them towards a better under- 
standing. tov\ ards a v erv' personal and far-reaching resolution. 

II tears were words iinJ emotions eoiilil he heard 
It would lake a lifetime to hear what I have to say 
But even longer to understand. 

-Felix Vasquez 

For more information, contact The Performance Project at 413-586- 
4960 or email julie.l(u "ti 

Jeremv Smith is a video editor producer with the .Media Education 
Foundation in Sorthampton. .\/.-f and is a resident of the post-indus- 
trial playground o/Holvoke. MA. His political work includes mem- 
bership in the Flywheel .-irts Collective of Easthampton. AtA, the li'est- 
ern Mass Revolutionary Drum Core, as well as other activist gmups. 
His other passions aiv music, friends, and the undeniahlv delicious 
vegetarian cuisine of his lovely fiancee Maigarel. You can email him 
at youthelcctwnixifi'comcasl. net 





the Chiapas Media Project 


The story is well known. In January 1994, just after 
President Clinton signed the NAFTA legislation, the 
Zapatista Army of National Liberation took a dramatical- 
ly different action regarding globalization. After organiz- 
ing in the indigenous communities of Chiapas for over 1 
years, the Zapatistas broke onto the international scene 
as they took hold of five cities in Chiapas and declared 
war on the Mexican government. Accounts of their de- 
mands for autonomy for the indigenous communities of 
Chiapas spread around the world. Elements of the upris- 
ing have interested progressive and radical activists, both 
the mainstream and independent media, as well as an- 
thropologists, sociologists, and political scientists — all 
of whom have told and retold the story of the Zapatistas 
from their own perspectives. 

But where was the story as told by the Zapatistas? 

Alex Halkin asked iiersclf a similar question during a 1995 visit to 
Chiapas, while filming a documentarv' about a humanitarian campaign 
there. She recalls thinking, "Here's a group of people who arc ex- 
tremely organized, are interested in communication. . .and at this point 
are completely dependent on both the mass media and even the inde- 
pendent media to tell their story." Out of this idea rose the Chiapas 
Media Project (CMP). Rather than be yet another project document- 
ing the Zapatistas from the outside, the CMP strives to provide video 

equipment and training to empower the indigenous communities of 
Chiapas to tell their own stories. 

The Zapatistas' ability to communicate with a supportive interna- 
tional community is undoubtedly an important reason that the Mexi- 
can government quickly called a cease-fire and acquiesced to their 
demands for negotiations. But the idea that the Zapatistas had easy ac- 
cess to the Internet and a well-planned international media campaign 
is largely myth. For the most part, they were reliant on extensive 
support networks to mobilize the support needed to stop the Mexican 
government from immediately crushing the uprising. 

The Zapatistas' dependence on outside support for representa- 
tion in the media was problematic. According to Paco Vasquez, a 
worker in the Chiapas office of the CMP, "We were not represented 
in the proper manner by the media. There was a lack of information 
about what indigenous people are, and what is their history. We 
don't feel represented in media; we don't feel represented in the his- 
tory books. There was a need for people to tell their own story." 

This is exactly what the CMP hopes to address. Shortly after her 
visit, Halkin began talks with local authorities in the Chiapas munic- 
ipalities. She recalls discussions "about the idea of bringing video 
technology and training to the communities, and people were really 
interested in it." It took a few more years to raise the money to do it. 
At first, there was no plan for a long-tenn organization like the CMP. 
But after the initial workshops, it was clear to Halkin that this was 
something the communities in Chiapas were interested in. The CMP 
became official in early 1998. 

"We started with very basic cameras in 1998." recalls Vasquez. 
After a few years, when money from international distribution and 
University presentations made it possible, digital equipment includ- 






ing cameras and editing suites were sent to Chiapas. Currently, grant 
money comprises about one-third of their budget. 

From the outset, there was a strong focus on disseminating 
knowledge throughout the members of the communities in Chiapas. 
According to Vasquez, "The idea was not to concentrate on the abil- 
ity to train or the ability to produce but to pass as much to the people 
so they can be independent." 

Only community leaders attended the early workshops, but the 
skill-sharing workshops are now include a much larger section of the 
communities. A regional video coordinator works in each of the ar- 
eas where the CMP operates, and this coordinator teaches most of the 

The activities of the CMP and the experiences of those involved 
serve to deconstruct romanticized notions of indigenous communities. 
Halkin acknowledges the often-held belief that, "We're bringing in 
this technology from the West that's going to contaminate the pure 
indigenous people," but quickly goes on to discredit that idea. "These 
people have been contaminated for over 500 years by people from the 
'outside.' Basically what they've told me is that they keep what's use- 
ful and they get rid of what's 
not useful." 

Vasquez is a little more cau- 
tious. "To me," he says, "it's 
always a matter of whether 
communities have the right 
to decide" whether they want 
these tools in their communi- 
ties or not. Because, unlike 
typical nongovernmental 
organizations (NGOs), the 
CMP is fully accountable to 
the communities in which 
they work, they can be cer- 
tain that their work is defined 
by the needs of the commu- 
nities. As Halkin says, "the 
way to look at the project in 
Chiapas is that we work for 
the communities. They're 
the ones that call the shots." 

Not surprisingly, Zapatista productions tend to reflect fundamen- 
tal differences in culture between the indigenous people of Chiapas 
and Western/Americanized culture. One noticeable difference is the 
lack of voice-over narration. Halkin attributes this to the fact that the 
members of the communities have always had others speak for them, 
and are therefore wary of third-person, omniscient narratives. 

The Zapatistas also use video as a tool for collective critique. 
The latest production is about the role of women Zapatistas, and it will 
be a strong indictment of patriarchy within the movement. "There arc 
not many organizations that air their difficulties and problems out in 
public, and 1 think that's one thing that's really interesting about how 
the Zapatistas are using video now," Halkin says. 

The filmmakers in Chiapas are for the most part fanners first, 
which largely accounts for the structural and organizational dilTer- 
ences in the way productions are made. Who is going to put in extra 
work on people's farms if they are busy working on a movie? Who 
is going to be involved in making the movie? When the production 
crew visits another village to film there, that v illage will have to find 
places for the crew to stay, feed ihem, and help with iranspoilation. 
The decision to make a movie alTects more than just those who are 
working on the production; it atTects the entire community and all the 
communities where it will occur. Does this afTect the length of time 
il lakes to proiluce a movie? "Yes!" Halkin says laughing. "1 can say 
that vMih absolute certainly." 

The CMP is currently finishing work on a video called "Hyes on 
What's Inside" It focuses on the rape of two indigenous women by 

members of the Mexican military in Guerrero, in the face of increased 
militarization of that region. Much of the CMP's work in Guerrero 
focuses on documentation of human rights abuses. 

Where is the CMP heading now? They are nearing the comple- 
tion of establishing four regional media centers, all of which have sat- 
ellite Internet access and digital video and audio production capabili- 
ties. Two centers are up and running now, one is waiting for funds to 
buy equipment, and the fourth is under construction. It will be up to 
the communities to decide how the centers should be used. 

Along with representing the political aims of the Zapatistas, these 
productions will likely promote the economic and commercial inter- 
ests of Chiapas residents. "It's not just whose hands get to go on the 
video equipment" that is important, says Halkin. Fair trade projects 
including farming co-ops, coffee, honey, and crafts all rely heavily 
on communication with vendors and distributors internationally, and 
these projects benefit the communities as a w hole rather than a certain 
individual. This is another ditTerence between the Zapatista model 
and what Halkin calls the "individualistic approach." "Everything is 
collectivized," she says, so it's not like any one person benefits more 

than another from the use 
of the media centers. "You 
have to look at it in a differ- 
ent kind of way." 

A project like the 
CMP essentially sets the 
terms for its own conclu- 
sion: once there is sufficient 
equipment and indigenous 
people trained to use it, the 
work of the CMP in Chi- 
apas is essentially done. .As 
\asquez puts it, the CMP is 
finished "when [the Zapatis- 
tas] decide that we're not 
needed, or necessarv for the 
continuation of this project." 
It's likely that the Chicago 
office will stay open to coor- 
dinate distribution and tour- 
ing presentations, which are 
two of the main sources of funds for the project. But the CMP was 
designed to render itself unnecessary in Chiapas. 

The CMP productions are examples of what Halkin refers to as "in- 
digenous media." For years, independent and mainstream media have 
been telling the story of the Zapatistas. "The stor> that they want to 
tell is more important than the story that somebody from the outside 
wants to tell about them," says Halkin. With the means of producing 
film and video at their disposal, the outside world will get not only a 
better understanding of the concerns and indiv idual stories of the Zap- 
atistas, but a lesson in new ways of telling these stories as well. 

For more infonnation, see the Chiapas Media Project website at 

Afax Suxsman is a conlrHniliii}; editor to Critical Moment (criiiculmo- He is cunvntly working on a documentary film about wa- 
ter rights in the Detroit area (standingpoint.oig). You can ivach him 
at maxiiimichiganimc.oig. 

A Bridg e Over Troubled Channels 

A New 
TV Network 
Connects East 
and West via 

b Lisa A. Haamid 

The master control room of Bridges TV In Buffalo, NY. 

"If we do not define ourselves, others will" 

This is a theme that repeats throughout the press releases, statements, 
and website for Bridges TV. The fiedgMng network made its broadcast 
debut from Buffalo, New York in November. Billed as the first-ever 
American Muslim television network in English, the programming 
will "celebrate the American Muslim lifestyle and culture," deliver- 
ing news and entertainment to the approximately eight million Mus- 
liins in North Ainerica. Buffalo is home to a flourishing community of 
Muslim — AiTiericans, among them. Bridges TV founder and CEO, 
Muzzammil Hassan. 

Why an English-language Muslim-American television network? 
Only 3 percent of all Muslims in the world are Arabic-speaking, and 
most Muslims in the United States are both English-proficient and 
have growing families with children whose first language is English. 
Bridges TV has been created to address and express the needs and 
concerns of this large and growing segment of American society. 

"When I was growing up in Poughkeepsic. New York, in the late 
'70s, early "HOs, hardly anyone knew what a Muslim was," says Sam- 
ina Salahuddin, Director of Media Relations at Bridges TV. "Today, 
however, not only do most people know what a Muslim is, but they 
know about all the ethnicities and sects of Muslims! Unfortunately, 
the reason for this is because of all the media attention given to Mus- 
lim insurgents or terrorists." 

Such bias without substance can easily create an environinent 
fertile for bigotry and hatred, as well as self-doubt and shame. Accord- 
ing to the San Francisco Chronicle, there was a 1 ,600 percent increase 
in reported hate crimes against Muslims in the first year after 9/1 1 . To 
what degree did the media influence these crimes? Deedra Abboud, 
Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations 
(CAIR, an Islamic civil rights organization), observed, "As an activ- 
ist, 1 hear people of other faiths stating what Muslims believe. [These 
statements are] based almost exclusively on what they read and see on 

American TV — Bridges TV will give Muslims in Ainerica the op- 
portunity to visually define themselves." 

Getting off the Defensive 

After 9/1 1, an environment of fear and misdirected anger made many 
Muslims feel on the defensive. Mosques held open-houses to bring 
about the understanding that Islam does not condone murder or what 
happened on September II, 2001, and the community spent much 
time condemning the attacks. Many now feel it's time to work for 
positive change in a constructive, proactive way. Bridges TV is not a 
political device. It is not being set up solely to counter what right-wing 
pundits are saying on the mainstreain TV. It proinotes no sect of Islam 
nor any political ideology. Its aim is to give Muslim viewers a place to 
turn where they can see their ideals respectfully expressed, and where 
they are less likely to hear the terms which have now become cliche, 
such as "extremist, radical, cleric," or "Islamic terrorist," etc. Instead, 
Bridges TV hopes to provide a place for the expression of a positive 
self-identity, much like what Telemundo has done for the Hispanic- 
American or what BET has done for African-Americans. Maryam Mir, 
an Irish-American Muslim living in Tucson, Arizona comments on the 
need for even greater visible diversity in the United States, "The his- 
tory of our nation has proven that when a variety of voices speak out 
— whether they are Chinese, Italian, Jewish, or Native Americans and 
now American Muslims — our country is stronger for it." Bridges TV 
is hoping to spark the interest of non- Muslim viewers as well. Bridg- 
ing the chasm of disinformation about Muslims is as vital a mission as 
providing specific prograinming for MusHms. 

Samina Salahuddin comments, "The reason I became involved 
with Bridges TV is because I know that Muslims in America do not 
fail into the categories of "terrorist" or "insurgenf ... We are such a 
diverse community with so many stories and unique issues that would 
benefit greatly from a network like Bridges." 




__ TrRnn loionto. Canada, is ine ^, p^oducets 

Capitalism, Democracy, and Islam, Live 

Bridges' viewer base is as financially attractive, perhaps more so than 
other minority' and ethnic groups which ha\e established their own 
spaces among the channels. Muslims are, on average, more highly edu- 
cated and possess greater purchasing power than other demographics. 
According to Zogby International, they are expected to double in num- 
ber in the US o\ cr the next decade. W hilc this is good new s for any no\ - 
ice station, it also poses potential and familiar problems. When asked 
whether he was afraid of corrupting influences from sponsors, Hassan 
answered without hesitation that the subscribers are the primary base of 
influence, "Every month people are \oting for us u ith their wallets," he 
says. The network is entirely privately funded, and no foreign funding 
or foreign governments have a hand in sponsoring Bridges. He adds 
with a chuckle, "We're a 100 percent made-in-the-USA product." 

The hub of Bridges TV nationwide programming is the WNED- 
TV studio, in Buffalo. From there the signal is broadcast through Glo- 
bccast World TV, a national satellite provider. Globecast has one mil- 
lion subscribers, a potential hedge for the fledgling Bridges network 
to gain exposure and increase its own subscription numbers. Bridges 
TV also has agreements v\ith Comcast Cable Company, the nation's 
largest cable operator, with more than 22 million potential \iewers. 
Sources for programming include independent producers working 
through community cable access televisions across the country, some 
imported programming from the BBC. and other programs developed 
specifically for Bridges TV. On their website, they invite independent 
programmers to submit samples of work for broadcast consideration. 



The responsibility of representing such a large segment of soci- 
ety poses potential problems as well. Visit any city with a substantial 
Muslim population and you're likely to see a spectrum of attitudes 
to both faith and lifestyle. When asked how he could represent such 
a broad variety of interpretations of Islam, Hassan restated his net- 
work's position of allowing viewers to access scenes of moderate 
Islamic life in America. It is not the mission of the network, he says, 
to give room to every Islamic voice out there. In fact, in discussing 
the criteria that programs would have to meet in order to be consid- 
ered for broadcast, Hassan said that they're interested in presenting 
the mainstream, temperate Muslim who works, raises a family, and 
pays taxes... just like any other American. The network will ac- 
tively screen out any submissions 
which they consider to be extrem- 
ist and inflammatory. That's not 
to say there won't be debates and 
lively discussions. But in all the 
myopic concentration on extreme 
interpretations of Islam over the 
last years. Bridges is looking to 
broaden the image. 

When asked if there is any 
concern about pressure to rep- 
resent Muslims as particularly 
assimilated into American cul- 
ture. Hassan again deferred to 
the primary mission of the net- 
work, which is to be a platform 
lor other Muslims to present 
their own view. As the name 
implies, they're focusing on 
content which will establish 
and strengthen "bridges ol 
friendship and understandinu 
with America ■■ 

A New Expression of the American Mix. 

As its name implies, Bridges TV is trying to link Muslim communities 
with other Muslim communities across the nation, as it tries to bridge 
the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. A single bridge 
can only transport so much freight, and it w ill take a lot of hands to 
make this bndge strong. But if we are to change the uneven way Is- 
lam and Muslims are represented in mainstream media, Muslims must 
take pen in hand and write, edit, produce, and broadcast. The remedy to 
the current lop-sidedness will take time, \ ision. and a sustained elTort. 
Drawing on the combined voices of America's diverse Muslim popula- 
tions, and with a strong plan for its development. Bridges TV promises 
to add a new, and often overlooked, perspective to American media, ir 
For more information, see 

^asrya Zubair (/eft), >v„e of Bridges TV rrn M 

*" IV CEO Muzzammil Hassan ( r^™. 

I.. " '"k"''. came up wi h the kIm ni ,n a 













remiK arli/l/ 
Creole po/ilive 
ollernoliye/ from 
cullurol du/lbin/ 

After Texan Brad Neely watched the first Harry 
Potter movie, he decided to DIY it into some- 
thing new, writing and performing an ahemate par- 
ody soundtrack that anyone can download and play 
while watching the movie. In his version, Wizard 
People, Dear Reader, Harry, Hermione, and Ron 
are alcoholics and Quidditch has homoerotic under- 
tones. His new version has been shown at the New 
York Underground Film Festival and the San Fran- 
cisco Indie Fest. 

Using elements of others' works can lead to new 
art, but it can also be seen as a form of poaching 
someone else's creative output. Others believe that 
remixing culture is part of a vibrant new cultural 
movement. One of the strongest advocates for this 
movement is DJ/conceptual artist Paul Miller (aka 
DJ Spooky). 

words Raizel Liebler lustrati: Zack Giallongo 

Recently, DJ Spooky has been touring, presenting his video re- 
mix of D.W. Griffith's 1915 film The Birth of a Nation called "Rebirth 
of a Nation." DJ Spooky is part of a larger cultural context for remix 
culture. On his website (, DJ Spooky explains that he 
created this new version to challenge the way people view the original 
film and history itself While the original film is disturbing and racist, 
used as a propaganda tool by the Ku Klux Klan, DJ Spooky does not 
veer away from the artistic intensity of the original film. "Repressing 
memory is not a good way to make sure that we learn fi-om the mis- 
takes of the past," he said in a phone inter\'iew. 

"DJing helps people view collective memory, to help us under- 
stand how we create culture from digital memory. [Remixing culture 
helps us] to have tools to think of the present and to understand the 
past. The hardest part is for America to live up to its ideals. . .which is 
due to lack of awareness of history." In addition to remixing Birth of 
a Nation, DJ Spooky has remixed the Blue Series, an influential jazz 
release, into Celestial Mechanix. He also plans to continue to remix 
films — his next film-based project is a remix of Nazi-era propagan- 
dist Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." 

Remixes aren't always done with artistic motivations, but can 
sometimes just serve as the results of a frustrated fan armed with 
video editing software. Many fans of the original Star Wars trilogy 
who had waited almost twenty years for more movies from George 
Lucas were disappointed with the new movies. One anonymous fan 
took action in 2001, by creating "The Phantom Edit" from the movie 
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, by re-editing the movie, 
eliminating the reviled Jar Jar Binks character and focusing on ac- 
tion sequences. While DJ Spooky is able to re-edit Birth of a Nation 
any way he wishes because the copyright has expired, those reinixing 






more contemporary work, such as the Phantom Fditor. face a host of 
legal entanglements. 

Fan-created film remixes allow indi\ idiials to ha\ e control when 
previously they could only be passive participants in their fandom 
— now they can remix their fandom into "perfection." After all, what 
really makes film remixes different from adaptations — except that 
remixes are not always "authorized"? 

Even more than video sampling, music sampling has become a 
ubiquitous part of our culture, but not without its own legal conse- 
quences. When the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique was released in 
19X9. it was considered a masterpiece of sampling, including over 
an estimated 200 samples. However, it took the Beastie Boys twelve 
years after the release of Check Your Head in 1992 to clear a six- 
second three-note sample of jazz flutist James Newton's composition 
"Choir" used in "Pass the Mic."" 

Once a composer of a song authorizes a recording, anyone can 
then record the same song — US copyright law does allow for "cover- 
ing" an entire song. This is how Orgy was able to cover New Order's 
"Blue Monday" in 1998. This is also why the profoundly creepy Kidz 
Bop CDs have all of your favorite adult-oriented and sexually sug- 
gestive songs sung by children, lyrics intact, such as Britney Spears' 
"Toxic." and Maroon 5's "This Love" ("I tried my best to feed her ap- 
petite/Keep her coming every night/So hard to keep her satisfied" and 
"My pressure on your hips/Sinking my fingertips Into every inch of 
you/Cause I know that's what you want me to do"). What this means 
is if Joe Blow's punk band records a whole album of MC5 covers, the 
music publisher is required to give them clearance as long as the 
band pays for it. 

This leaves artists in the peculiar position of seeing their entire 
compositions redone by others 
without their permission, but still 
able to keep others from using 
small parts of the whole. While 
sampling has become accepted as 
a form of cultural remixing (if the 
right people arc paid), mash-ups 
have becoine controversial. 

The latest form of sampling, 
mash-ups, layer or twine two dif- 
ferent songs, often of differing genres, together. Mash-ups are differ- 
ent from traditional sampling because they often layer two or more 
complete songs, rather than using small portions of a song. Most 
mash-ups are not legal; however, mash-ups are all over peer-to-peer 
networks and remix websites. Fans and DJs have created these new 
songs for a variety of reasons, but originally there was no commercial 
potential due to potential copyright issues. 

Fear of lawsuits did not keep an unauthorized mash-up of Nelly's 
Work li and AC/DC's Back in Black from being played extensively 
on several radio stations. DJ Danger Mouse created a well-publicized 
mash-up. The Grey Alhum. from Jay-Z's The Black Album and the 
Beatles" White Alhum. In response to being threatened by the Beatles" 
record label, on February 24, 2004. (aka "Grey Tuesday") over four 
hundred websites hosted MP3s of The Grey Alhum. 

There has recently been a wave of authorized mash-ups. with 
more mainstream artists finding the commercial \alue in using this 
new art fonn. At the Brit Awards 2002 (UK version of the Grammy 
Awards), Kylie Minoguc performed "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of 
My Head,"" combining the lyrics of her song "Can"t Get You Out of 
My Head" with the music to New Order's "Blue Monday."" After the 
positive reaction to this perfomiance by an artist loved by remixers, 
the music industry abandoned its resistance of this new musical fonn. 
On this side of the Atlantic, MTV recently announced the creation of 
a new show "MTV lljlimate Mash-up."" The first product of this 
show is a Jay-Z Linkin Park collaboration including a mash-up ol" 
Linkin Park's Numh and Jay-Z's .//^'j[;« What. 

An art form that was originally created by fans and DJs can now 
be used by corporations who ha\e the money to clear any music that 
was used, but still leaves many of the non-corporate mash-ups in lim- 
bo. Like early jazz. rock, and rap artists, the innovators are not the 
ones who will be benefiting primarily from this new art form. While 
corporations will use the innovative artistic techniques and art forms 
created by others, when corporations own creati\e work, they are not 
as free with sharing. 

Art is built on the past, but the present realities of copyright law 
of^en stand in the way of using the creative output of others in new 
ways. While music traditions including folk and gospel have allowed 
artists to copy and retell the songs of others, contemporary artists are 
expected to obscure how they use previous art to create their o\sn 
Directly using the work of another runs the risk of landing in court. 

When a political parody web animation, JibJab, rewrote the lyr- 
ics and used the music the song, "This Land is Your Land,"" by Woody 
Guthrie, to poke fun at the presidential election, a company claimed 
ownership of the song's copyright. 

While it turned out that the copyright had expired, the idea that 
"This Land is Your Land" could not be used for remixing is antitheti- 
cal to the way in which the song itself was created. "This Land is 
Your Land" was created within the folk music tradition where art- 
ists borrowed freely from each other and earlier artists, sampling and 
copying considered to be part of w hat makes music work. Accord- 
ing to the Electronic Freedom Foundation's website, which includes 
musical samples, "Woody Guthrie lifted the melody of 'This Land Is 
Your Land' essentially note-for-note from "When the World's on Fire," 
a song recorded by countrybluegrass legends the Carter Family ten 
years before Guthrie wrote his classic song."" It is difficult for the law 

to fit situations like this where 
long-term collaboration leads to 
the production of music — and 
other creati\ e works. 
Based on the idea that new art 
is intrinsically linked to exist- 
ing art. in late 2002 and early 
2003, Stay Free Magazine 
hosted a unique art exhibit, 
"Illegal Art." in New York and 
Chicago, composed of remixed culture. .\s stated in the exhibit's ma- 
terials. ""Borrow ing from another artwork — as jazz musicians did in 
the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 194()s will now land 
you in court. If the curtent copyright laws had been in effect back in 
the day, whole genres such as collage, hip-hop, and Pop Art might 
have never have existed."" This exhibit shows the vitality of remixed 
art. not through direct copying, but through incorporating elements 
from previously created art. 

Culture builds upon past culture regardless of cop> right law or 
threats of lawsuits. The latest examples of remix culture are part of a 
tradition that builds upon pre\ ious culture the same waN that folk mu- 
sic, gospel music, and storvtelling does. "Remixing is not destroying 
the original," says DJ Spooky. It is like Lego blocks, [allowing us] to 
build upon and reinterpret. ".Another world is possible, remixing helps 
us see it."' ^ 

Raizel Liehler i.\ a law librarian in CV/n <;<,'() .SVjc /i/()<.,'\ at the I.ihrarv- 
Law hlog. 

Fan-created film remixes allow individuals to 
have control when previously they could only 
be passive participants in their fandom — now 
they can remix their fandom into "perfection." 






w^-vjB y- ' 



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talking video games with developer Seth Robinson 

Christina Hoheisel and Alex Kerfoot 

In a mere 35 years, video games have gone from a basement hobby to a 
muhi-billion dollar industry that reaches millions of people worldwide. De- 
spite their large appeal, mainstream media outlets still portray video games, in 
the best case, as mindless, valueless entertainment, and in the worst, a cause 
of violent behavior. In independent media, they are rarely discussed at all 

Robinson Technologies, comprised of husband and wife team Seth and 
Akiko Robinson, have been developing independent games for the past fif- 
teen years. Their games, such as Teenage Lawnmower. often deal with seri- 
ous social issues like domestic violence and alcoholism, and are available for 
sale and for free from their website, 

While attending the 2004 Independent Games Festival, a part of the larg- 
er Game Developers Conference, we were able to ask Seth a few questions 
about how an independent developer survives in an industry where large cor- 
porations are the norm and dominate the market, as well as the advantages of 
remaining an independent developer. 

Akiko and Seth Robinson and screenshots of Robinson 
Technologies games Dink Smallwood, Funeral Quest. Tarzan. 
and Teenage Lawnmower 

Clamor: Are you an independent game devel- 
oper by choice or are you here looking for a 
publisher for your game? 

Seth: Definitely by choice. My independent 
games have been published before, such 
as Dink Smallwood. Most of my stuff isn't 
suitable for publishing so 1 don't even try, 
and that's fine. 1 like to sell it on my own or 
through affiliates, as we call them — other 
sites that take a percentage and sell it for 

What do you mean by "not suitable "? 

The content is not mainstream in many cases: 
it's too violent or socially unacceptable. With 
issues like pregnancy and violent domestic 
abuse, it's those things that I get a lot of email 
about. Although, most of it is actually posi- 

Obviously there is a lot of senseless violence 
in many mainstream games. So why is it a 
more serious issue when the violence in the 
game is part of a larger social issue, rather 
than the basis of the gameplay? 

What I try to do is give the player more choic- 
es. In most games, you have to kill these 50 
people to get to the next level. In my games, 
for instance, Dink Smallwood (a "Legend of 
Zelda"-type RPG game), there is an Aunt who 
you are staying with, and you come out of the 
bedroom and witness her husband hitting her, 

and they have an argument. From there you 
have a choice. You can accept this and go 
along with it, don't cause any problems; or 
you can talk to the uncle, say '"Don't touch 
her, don't do this," and you can actually stop 
the abuse. Some people saw that and said, "I 
can't believe you show an animated character 
hitting a woman in a game and then have him 
force her to clean up the blood." It's pretty 
realistic. But other people said, "My family 
was like that and 1 thought it was reaUy inter- 
esting how 1 could stop that and correct the 
problem." It was really the player's choice. 
It's about choices. If you don't have choices, 
you're not playing a game; you're just read- 
ing a story. The more choices, the better. 

Do you feel that being an independent develop- 
er grants you more freedom with your games? 

It definitely does, but it depends on my mind- 
set at the time I am designing it; if I really 
want to make money or not. If I have enough 
money in the bank and I don't feel pressured 
about that, then I am one hundred percent free 
to do what I want, which is really a great feel- 
ing. But if I need cash, I will stay away fi-om 
controversial issues, because financially it's 
not good. 

Are you able to make a decent living from 

1 could live on them. In the past 1 have done iv* 
extremely well. About fifteen years ago, I had g 







an independent hit game. Legend of the Red 
Dragon. Reeently I've been doing okay, but 
I'm definitely not getting rich on it, so it's a 
tough call. If I can just accept that level of 
income — which right now I can't because 
I'm trying to buy a house, so 1 am doing ex- 
tra work that isn't easy — I'd really love to 
just do what I want. I hope someday I can do 
that with no limits, but right now I do that in 

How do you get the games that you have done 

A publisher will come to me and say, "1 saw 
this game, and I'll give you this much up- 
front." There's a minimum that I need before 
I'll consider it, or it's not worth the time to 
figure out the contract. Usually it gets pub- 
lished in some Third World country. American 
publishers are not often interested in my stuff. 
The majority of money comes from affiliates, 
like the online portal Real Arcade. They have 
a huge customer base and my game Dungeon 
Scroll is on there. That's kind of like an on- 
line publisher. They own the "shelf of the 
Internet. There are four big ones. Microsoft, 
Yahoo, etc.; and Real is one of them. If you 
get on there, you instantly get 100,000 play- 
ers to download your game, so it's another 
version of publishing. 

So even though the internet is available to ev- 
eryone, are the sales of online video games 
controlled by larger companies? 

More and more everyday. It's sad because if 
you really want to be independent, you can't 
use these guys. They control the content, and 
you have to meet their standards. They'll tell 
you what to change, and they're not shy about 
that. If you can get your own customer base, 
you don't need them. I'm kind of in both ar- 
eas. I have customers, but I make such a va- 
riety of games that my customer base is con- 
fused. They think, "I bought this 3-D game, 
but I don't want to buy this casual word 
game. Why can't you just make another role- 
playing game like the one 1 liked'.'" I've done 
as much as possible to confuse and screw up 
all customer relations. Even though it's slow 
and painful to build your own customer base, 
in theory it's worth it. because then you own 
that mind share. When another portal does it. 
they don't give you the contact information 
for the people who bought your game and 
they won't even let you link your own web- 
site. They don't want the customer to know 
the individual developer; they want him to 
keep coming to their portal. 

That's common even in mainstream store- 
bought games, where the game will have a 
big publisher logo on it, but not a logo of the 
small studio that developed it. 

Exactly. Most of the games, especially the 
smaller ones, were developed by a company 
you have never even heard of I have devel- 
oped a ton of games that I barely get credit 
for. You have to look deep, "who was the 
real programmer?" It was me, but my name's 
surely not on the box. 

Neil Young from Electronic Arts (the laig- 
est game software developer and publisher) 
claimed that in the future he thinks that in- 
novation in video games is going to be com- 
ing from larger publishers because they have 
money to spend on more risky projects. Do 
you agree with that.' 

1 haven't seen that. No large publisher will 
spend money on risky projects. I guess it de- 
pends on the customers. If the customers stop 
buying the current crop of games and say "We 
want something new," then I think publishers 
will be a lot more interested in stealing ideas 
from small developers, which they already 
do. A really smart publisher is able to take 
in a new idea and figure out which ones \\ ill 
be successful and which ones won't, because 
a lot of experimental ideas will be financial 
disasters. Even though they are interesting 
and further the medium, you can't sell them 
at Toys R Us. It's just a stepping stone to the 
next thing. 1 wouldn't count on large publish- 
ers to do much except make money, which is 
what they have to do to sur\ ive. 

What made you choose to become a game de- 

When 1 was twelve 1 started writing text 
games, and I just loved the whole idea. I 
loved the concept of being able to create 
something once and duplicate it innumerable 
times. There is just something that's so great 
about that concept — to share your idea w ith 
an unlimited number of people, with so many 
people. 1 just never stopped. So regardless of 
whether I got paid or published. I'd probably 
still be making my own thing. 

Do you feel that video games are a viable 
medium for .spreading information and ideas 
and addressing social and political issues? 

1 tiiink so. 1 think we all do it. consciouslv or 
not. I don't know of anyone who specifically 
tries to put in his values and creates a game 
for the purpose of educating some social val- 
ue, but I guess it's certainly possible. I gucs> 
e\en I do that, mostly subconsciously. I'm 
just hoping it's a positive influence overall, 
but who knows. It all depends on the person 
If they play my game, they might choose to 
do everything evil, and then maybe it's a neg- 
ative influence on their life. Or maybe they 
get to work it out in their brain and see what 

really happened. It's complicated, 
but I think so. 

When you are giving them the 
choice, it 's not as if the game is in- 
fluencing them as much as they are 
influencing the outcome of the game. 

Yeah, it just magnifies what they wanted to 

But I think it 's also valuable in that it can give 
people experiences that they wouldn 't neces- 
sarily have in real life. Like if someone was 
too afraid to confront domestic violence. 

That's true, and I think one of the points of 
gaming is to put yourself into a new situation 
that you would ne\er ha\e experienced nor- 
mally. Right now, it seems like all the situa- 
tions that you get put in when you buy games 
today are kind of similar. You've been there. 
you'\e done that. 1 think the more kinds of 
situations the better. I really like simulators, 
all kinds — train simulators, running a school 
simulators — because it's a new experience. 

/ really like your idea of giving players experi- 
ences that they haven 't had. I see video games 
as a huge and prevalent industry: where chil- 
dren and adults and people of all ages and 
se.xcs play them. They are everywhere and I 
think it is interesting to integrate a social is- 
sue into something that is so mainstream in 
our society and reaches so many people. 

Yeah, I agree and I reall> feel that is true as I 
get older and more mature. When I look back 
on my old stuff, I really see that as I change, 
my games change. I am hoping that in thirty 
years 1 will have real wisdom to put in my 
games, so that younger kids who play will 
learn something, w ithout meaning to. Maybe 
even about life. 

/ think that s givat and I have always w<m- 
dered whether that is possible to do in a video 
game. You seem to have done that to .some 

Yeah, I have gotten reactions. I've gotten a lot 
of emails. To me. that is sort of success. If you 
can make an impact one wav or another that 
means you have spoken loudK. That's good 
enough for me. it 

not a subscriber? 

what are you waiting for? 

subscribe to clamor online at or 
PC Box 20 128 I Toledo. OH 436 10 
$18 for 6 issues 



My plan seems simple enough at the 
time. I am working on a piece about 
MoveOn. org's "Bush in 30 Sec- 
onds" contest and I decide to interview some 
of the participants. One group calls them- 
selves the "Paper Street Space Monkeys." 
After some research 1 am able to locate them 
through their website, 
where I learn that the "20 dissidents" moniker 
was derived from their desire to see Andrew 
Jackson removed from the 20-dollar bill. 

1 will admit that I know little about 
American history and that I know even less 
about Jackson's presidency. I am intrigued, 
however, and read on. The Space Monkeys 
write, "We... believed that if enough peo- 
ple were made aware of Andrew Jackson's 
legacy of deceit and genocide, and those 
same people signed a petition to remove 
his face from the S20 bill, then the gov- 
ernment might consider our proposition." 

I have no idea why Jackson's legacy 
might be considered one of "deceit and geno- 
cide," and so I write a note to myself to learn 
more about Jackson's time in office. Two 
weeks pass and Martin Luther King, Jr., day 
rolls around. That day. I read an op-ed piece 
from the San Francisco Chronicle entitled 
"Put King on the 20," and in it the authors 
discuss why they feel Jackson should be re- 
placed on the twenty-dollar bill with MLK Jr. 

Jackson's presidency, they write, "is 
marked by the barbarous Indian Removal 

The Paper Street Space Monkeys 
and the Search for Anger byBemanzer 

Act... (which) led to the infamous Trail 
of Tears, where four thousand Chero- 
kee men, women, and children died in a 
forced march." 

I have heard about the Trail of Tears, 
but have never connected it to Jackson or 
his policies. If these two groups have em- 
braced this issue, might not there be others? 
And if there are, why is this issue so impor- 
tant to them? 1 should know more about all of 
this, but I don't, and 1 am embarrassed about 
that. It's time to learn more. 

I go to Google and type in "remove An- 
drew Jackson from the twenty dollar bill, 
and I am deluged with pages of links, every- 
thing from a petition calling for Jackson's 
removal to rants about the twenty-dollar bill 
on the blogs. Tliere are clearly a lot of peo- 
ple out there who have strong feelings about 
Jackson's presidency. I decide to pay some of 
them a visit. 

Minister Gary Kowalski is a graduate of 
Har\'ard Divinity School and pastor at the First 
Unitiirian Universalist Society of Burlington, 
Vermont. In an October, 2003, "Pulpit Edito- 
rial" he writes: "Andrew Jackson's picture 
should be in the National Hall of Shame, not 
on the twenty dollar bill. And I like to imagine 
acts of grassroots resistance to his presence on 
our currency. What if people wrote the word 
'genocide' across his face on every bill that 
passed through their hands? Or what if they 
simply refused to accept twenties. ..." 

"The response has been overwhelmingly 
positive," he says in response to an e-mail 
inquiry. "Many people had been unaware of 
Jackson's crimes. Some dropped their twenties 
into the church collection plate that day — our 
receipts were much bigger than usual." 

I also ask him whom he would suggest as 
Jackson's replacement. "Martin Luther King, 
Jr. Rosa Parks. Eleanor Roosevelt and Frank- 
lin Roosevelt. Benjamin Franklin. Thurgood 
Marshall." A short time later Minster Kowal- 
ski writes back to say, "Ben, Whoops, guess 
old Ben Franklin is already on the SIOO bill. 

How about Frederick Douglass for the $20?" 

As I digest Minister Kowalski's respons- 
es, I am reminded that there are people out 
there committed to righteous causes and that 
they have a vision for how things might be. 
They also have role models they admire who 
guide their actions and principles. I begin to 
wonder whether I aiti one of those people, 
and if not, what is it I can do to change this? 

My next stop is a visit with John Knouse, 
who advocates for Jackson's removal from the 
twenty-dollar bill on his personal website www. He writes, "Join me in 
an eflbrt to have Andrew Jackson replaced by 
Eleanor Roosevelt on the US S20 Bill." And 
why should we do this he asks'.' Because among 
other things, while "Jackson was... responsible 
for creating an atmosphere of extreme political 
partisanship that has persisted until today," El- 
eanor Roosevelt "championed civil rights and 
other important issues even at frank risks to 
her own life." Knouse describes himself as "a 
middle-aged white male, living in southeastern 
Ohio (in one of the very few genuinely liberal 
areas of a right wing state)." 

The response to Knouse 's essay has so 
far been "very sparse. In fact, you're perhaps 
the third person who's ever responded. One 
person was an extreme apologist for Andrew 
Jackson, saying that he needed to be judged 
'in the context of his times.' What I know is 
that there were plenty of people in the United 
States at the time who were sensitive to the 
issue of Native American removal and killing 
and were horrified by it... Jackson's ignorance 
was no excuse." 

I'm struck by a couple of things, the first 
of which is the use of the word "context." 
People like to talk about context, whether 
they are discussing Jackson then or Bush 
today. The President decides to invade Iraq 
and calls those unpatriotic who question the 
evidence presented to rationalize the inva- 
sion. We are told that we are at war, and it 
is within this context that the decisions made 
by the President should be judged, regardless 



of how ultimately destructive his policies 
have been. 

With this in mind, 1 turn back to the Pa- 
per Street Space Monkeys and back to where 
my journey first began. I ask a member of 
the Space Monkeys what has influenced their 
interest in such a cause. "There is nothing 
specific to our backgrounds that lent itself to 
our political or social views. Both of us have 
always been disposed to question authority. 
Every teenager does. 1 suppose, but a lot of us 
lose that inquisitive and rebellious nature as 
the realities of adulthood set in. For whatever 
reason, both of us still feel very strongly that 
change is crucial, and more importantly, pos- 
sible. We also believe that even if our move- 
ments ultimately fail on their face, the very 

fact that people united for such a movement 
is a victory unto itself" 

The Space Monkeys' response deeply 
resonates with me. 1 am angry, but discon- 
nected, and 1 am unsure what to do about it. 
Those calling for Jackson's removal from 
the twenty-dollar bill have reminded me that 
a righteous anger exists in the minds of ev- 
eryday people, and that the challenge is not 
whether 1 can find a means to connect with 
something larger then myself, but will I, and 
can I, and what more will it take to do so? 

I prioritize everything but activism. I tell 
myself that there is work to go to, the baby's 
diapers to change, book readings to attend, 
and articles I want to write. I tell myself I'm 
too busy to do anything more than 1 do. I v\ ant 

to believe this, but with four more years of the 
Bush administration ahead of us. the time to 
settle for anything less than taking action is 
long since past. 

Ben is a social worker and writer who lives 
in Chicago with his wife and young son. 
Ben has had work published in a variety of 
magazines and journals including Midnight 
Mind. Rated Rookie. Punk Planet. Abroad 
View. Chicago Parent, Windy City Sports. 
and The Heartlands. Ben can he contacted at 
hendehmyles(arcn. com 

When a Whisper Becomes a Shout: Beyondmedia Education 



Media provides the threads of a web that interconnect a community. 
Stories are shared, opinions are heard, and people are given the chance 
to hear perspectives that they may otherwise never know about. Mak- 
ing alternative media is crucial when so many relevant stories are 
pushed into the ground. Beyondmedia Education allows some of those 
stories to emerge from the earth. 

Filmmaker Salome ChasnofT founded the organization in 1996 af- 
ter producing a documentary about the 1995 United Nations 
Fourth World Conference on 
Women in Beijing. China. 
Chasnoff emerged from 
the conference inspired and 
equally frustrated at the lack 
of media control women had. 
"There was a really strong 
need for young women to 
have increased media access 
and media skills, and also to 
have a different kind of edu- 
cation," Chasnofl" says. "An 
education that not only deliv- 
ers skills, but also supports 
them as developing women." 

Beyondmedia "sprograms 
provide in-depth groundwork 
for each participant to learn 
and grow from. "[We have] 

year-long workshops in which girls and young women of diverse 
backgrounds learn to decipher the messages of dominant media and 
alternative media, and they create a wide range of their own media, 
including video, web design, digital imaging, audio recording, cre- 
ative writing, photography and performance. Then they develop and 
distribute a group project." 

The girls select a topic to work v\ ith, one thai holds meaning and 
what they want to explore, many times rangmg from race to sexual 
orientation to class issues. Says Chasnoff; "We talk about the topic 
through the many months and develop ideas about who the audience 
IS. how we want to communicate the issues, and we create a project. 
They distribute it they have public screenings and they package it. 
and they get out there with it." 

The organization works with women in communities most in 
need of media education and ser\ices because of economic and or so- 

Nikhi Thompson, one ol the 

cial exclusion. Beyondmedia has partnered with over 90 community- 
based organizations and schools to produce media arts on subjects 
ranging from girls' activism to women's incarceration. 

In the Women and Prison project, incarcerated women and girls, 
former prisoners and their families use media arts to voice their sto- 
ries, promoting public dialogue and community organizing. An up- 
coming online project, Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance will 
feature essays, personal narratives, creative 
writing, links to reports, studies, and other re- 
sources on women's incarceration. 

Beyondmedia recently facilitated a me- 
dia workshop with a group of young w oman 
with multiple disabilities. The group eventu- 
ally produced their own video. Beyond Dis- 
ahiliiy: The Fe Fe Stories. "After facilitating 
a support group for girls with disabilities 
for six years. I guess the most stunning and 
transformative thing that we ever did was to 
liook up with Beyondmedia." says Susan 
Nussbaum. founder and coordinator of the 
group. "Disabled girls are never presented 
w ith these kinds of opportunities by the sys- 
tems that rule their lives. It's only natural 
thai w hen they are given a challenge, thev 
rise to the occasion." 
Besides media literacy and production skills, 
these girls also gain personal empowennent. Self-esteem, self-con- 
fidence and social consciousness are able to surface more freely, as 
well as a sense of personal power. "Thev become more aware of how 
their personal issues, their liv es. and the community they build w ithin 
a group become part of a larger society," says Chasnoff. 

What perhaps the most important thing Bevondmedia provides 
is guidance, that gentle nudge to get one to do what they are fully ca- 
pable of doing. Every woman as it in them, but it's diflicult. Chasnoff 
says, to do it on your own. especialK liv ing in a societN where women 
are marginalized in a male-dominated world. "Girls are more often 
prone to inv isibility. and the inabilitv to have an impact. They're more 
often voiceless; they more often accept that role. .And a lot of them 
sec their onlv opportunilv is through their relationships w iih men It's 
important that women shape public thinking, shape public dialogue, 
shape public policy." 
-.ilison Parker 

^ch37 apprentices w,th Beyondmedia 


7-10 Day Turnaround 
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'> ??k ' Tour Support %■<' 

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G7 Welcoming Committee Records. 

We hate putting out records and it shows. 

Here are some records it looks like we're putting out in 2005. I guess. 
Greg MacPherson / Night Flares ... G7 compilation CD ... Propagandhi / 

new album ... Hiretsukan / new album ... probably more. Much to our dismay. 

Order online at 



^ie (international) r 


Uncooperative since 1997. 



i IK 


rm I 

■ X- 

'r 3*_ 


w J 

Experimental Media for Feminist Trespass 

Imagine a three story media production studio that 
appears for one weekend and brings hundreds of 
queer and feminist independent media producers to- 
gether for the video-taping and staging of their own 
"television shows," talk shows, historical reenact- 
ments and skill-sharing workshops. Imagine activ- 
ists working on each other's productions, sharing 
facilities and equipment, eating community meals 
and collaborating on set design for fictional news 
shows. In October, Pilot TV did just this by creating 
a unique space for collaboration, asking questions 
and building community in a wonderful and experi- 
mental temporary autonomous television studio. 

A conversation between Emily Forman 

and Daniel Tucker about building 

a temporary autonomous 

TV studio 

Daniel: How did the idea for Pilot arise? 

Emily: In initial conversations, another organizer, James Tsang, and 
I kept throwing around this word, this idea of "Transfeminism." We 
were excited that it had no set definition and thought it might have 
some possibility in terms of encompassing a wide variety of new 
feminist concerns (and old concerns as well, like the idea that biology 
shouldn't control your destiny...).' Our conversations about defining 
transfeminism quickly multiplied into ail these other slogans and ex- 
clamations of our desires for "Body Flight!" and "Feminist Trespass!" 
against biopolitical control and capitalism. Our basic idea was that we 

opposite (clockwise from lop left). Danimal and Tess shoot a gay soap; Latham acting in his group's improvised soap opera; Emily In front of Pllotwood hills. 

should work out these questions with our peers in a productive, perfor- 
mative, open-ended space. It eventually was settled that we would call 
people from across the continent to come and take part in a weekend 
of collaborations producing feminist television "pilots," which would 
then be edited, compiled, and redistributed back to all participants 
so they could distribute them on their local public access channels, 
schools, or microcinemas wherever they live. This would also have 
the effect of building a new network of anticapitalist transsexuals, 
queers, and feminist media producers for possible future action. 

Daniel: Can you mention some of the models, other events and proj- 
ects that inspired Pilot? 

Emily: Pilot was moved to build a horizontal production space that 
could feed into, and in some ways differ from, the incredible horizon- 
tal distribution networks created by the global Indymedia movement. 
We were inspired by projects like DIVA TV, Deep Dish and Paper Ti- 
ger, as well as lesser-known histories of queer, feminist, and collective 
media activism such as the Videofreex and Raindance Corporation. In 
addition to those influences, we decided that Pilot should take the best 
aspects of a protest convergence center and a Hollywood TV studio. 

Daniel: There were more than 35 different "shows" that were taped 
during the weekend including a talk show called "Feeling Good About 
Feeling Bad" which focused on the experience of political depression, 
a performative lecture by the Society for Biological Insurgents, and 
a genderqueer erotic remake of the 1925 Eisenstein film Battleship 
Potemkin. Considering all of the kinds of shows that happened during 
the weekend, what were people trying to figure out? 

Emily: We were trying to educate each other about the incredibly rich 
history of feminist media activism, and some of the early Utopian pro- 
posals for what video and television might be. The popular meaning 
of feminism has been whittled down to these very narrow cliches, but 
in fact, it is a set of essential tools for ethical social practice and resis- 
tance to patriarchy, hierarchy, and capitalism. As far as transfeminism 
relating to media democratization, we didn't privilege either one as a 



1870: The first gay periodical, Um- 
ings. is published in Germany, but 
lasts only one issue. 

1947: Wee Versa, with the tagline 
"America's Gayest Magazine," is 
first distributed and lasts nine is- 

concern. We saw them as coextensive and interdependent struggles. I guess it is on this le\el that femi- 
nism most strongly informs anticapitalisl mo\cmcnts today. Our concern during the \seekend was about 
doing activism from the level of the body up. Starting with how we meet our basic needs for food or 
healthcare, up to thmgs like how we resist oppressions based on race, citizenship, gender, or sexuality, 
our position as laborers and consumers in the global economy, the importance of feelings, the bodies 
made up by our families, communities, and cities. 

One of the problems we encountered at Pilot was that there just wasn't enough set up and break- 
down time for people to shoot 9 TV shows a day, even with the three sets we had. Because of this, there 

1953: ONE magazine, printed by 
members of Los Angeles chapter 
of Mattachine Society is deemed 
obscene and illegal by federal 
court decisions in 1956, but the Su- 
preme Court reverses the decision 
in 1958. Published until 1972. 

1955: Mattachine Review, a more 
conservative publication by the 
San Francisco chapter of the so- 
ciety, starts printing and goes until 

1956: Ladder, published by Daugh- 
ters of Bilitis, focuses on lesbian 
poetry, fiction, and writing, until 
breaking apart in 1970. 

1967: The Advocate starts in L.A. 
as a local newspaper, before ex- 
panding to a national news maga- 

1969: Washington Blade begins 
publishing as "The Gay Blade," a 
newsletter for DC area lesbians 
and gays. 

1971: Faggots and Faggotry, the 
first known zine with queer content 
is put out by Ralph Hall in NYC and 
includes homoerotic drawing, po- 
litical essays, and poetry. 

1971: The Bay Area Reporter in 
San Francisco starts and is still 
publishing today. 

1972: The newsletter The Bisexual 
Expression, starts, often presumed 
to be the first of its kind. 

1974: The academic Journal of 
Homosexuality begins publication. 

1974: Lesbian Connection, a 
quarterty newsletter in Michigan, 
starts circulating through the un- 
derground lesbian circle. 

1975: Lesbian News, a monthly 
magazine, begins publishing In 
Califomia and now claims to the 
nation's number one magazine 
for lesbians of all colors and view- 

g 1976: Sinister Wisdom, a quarterty 
E creative 'Joumal for Lesbians," 
^ starts in Berkeley and still pub- 

Jocelyn taping "A Food Revival." an organic cooking show in the Pilot kitchen 

wasn't enough time for the education of people with less technical expertise, so hierarchies of knowl- 
edge were set up due to a sped-up production schedule. Some of the problems at Pilot can be worked out 
in future events. And there did seem to be a big interest on the part of participants at making that happen. 
Maybe it will turn into a more permanent studio, or possibly a mobile production house like the so\ iet 
cinema trains. 

Daniel: And in the end'.' 

Emily: Pilot proved that it is possible build a TV studio without ANY money whatsoever, that with self- 
organization and collective resource sharing we can build alternative infrastructures that are equally as 
fantastic and sustainable as anything made in the capitalist economy! All in all, the weekend was an 
incredibly packed and complex experience. It was marked by lots of improvisation, pleasure, dialogue, 
public sex, failure, creative television production, skill sharing, and countless new relationships. I can't 
speak for the rest of the Pilot participants, but I know 1 experienced community the way 1 would like it 
to be everyday: queer as fuck and experimenting together for all the trespassing to come, "it 

Please see www/ tbr more information or to get involv ed in the post-production eflforts. 

' By "transfeminism" we generally meant "...working across difTerent forms of feminism, and in the same breath, 
we also want to recogni/e that trans genderqueer people are daily trespassing in the gendered spaces of capitalism. 
Spaces, which try to detennine us biologicalK. \\ hieh seek to confine us to recognizable markets, binars restrcxims. 
and social roles. Being gender-queer means not only 'crossing-o\er" back and forth (female to male, male to female) 
but is a radical rcl'usal of the gender-border altogether!" 

Emily Forman was one of 25 Pilot co-plotters and has been deeply involved in eollahoraiions and 
other oi-}^anizinii efforts ran^inf; from the Department of Space and Land Reclamation campaigns to the 
Autonomous Territories of Chicago. She is always down to work on pmjects that sound excessive and 
impossible! Reach her at emihi^counterproductiveindustries ami 

Daniel Tucker is an artist and activist living in Chicago who is generally interested in art that hap- 
pens in streets. He was (me of over 11)0 participants in the Pilot T\' project last October Tucker is also 
initiating an independent ivsearch project about "self oiganized" gnnip process and organizational 
structures. Reach him at daniel{iV,counlerprvduetiveindustrie\ com 

■ ■ ■ V^^ James Monteleone f 

Living Proof 

For gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ques- 
tioning (GLBTQ) youth across the country, a 
skewed portrait of the "homosexual" character in 
media has fostered stereotypes and led teens into a 
misrepresenting identity. "You don't ever see urban 
GLBTQ youth in the media, on TV, or anywhere 
that is all that visible." said Davies. "There isn't re- 
ally a voice out there for urban GLBTQ youth in the 
media, or in any accessible form, so that's what I'm 
trying to do with this project." 

With mainstream media establishments ed- 
iting or censoring many alternative culture ideas, 
young people often make decisions based on the 
biased media images they receive. For youth in the 
GLBTQ community those experiences are most 
often negative, rooted in grim statistics, and de- 
grading stereotypes of promiscuity 
and depression. 

In Baltimore, 
fourteen GLBTQ 
youth are experienc- 
ing something posi- 
tive in a theatre project 
called "Living Proof" 
The play, written and 
performed by the group, 
is based on their own life 
experiences, facing the dif- 
ficulty of coming out and 
succeeding in their aspira- 

"Living Proof summed 
up our lives," said Avia Brown, 
who played "Dawn" and "Feli 
cia's mom." Brown, who came 
out to her grandmother two days 
before the play's opening, affirms. 
"I am living proof that even if your 
family doesn't like what you do, you 
can still do you no matter what." 

"It's so much more than just a 
play, more than just what everybody 
sees on the outside, it's like everything that goes 
into it. It's our actual lives," said Jenell Hall, who 
played "Alysse" in the project. Hall affirms, "1 am 
living proof that strength is the essence of will." 

Erin Davies, 25, produced and directed the 
project. Like "her writers and actors. Davies also 
came out in high school and is familiar with the 
hardships the teens face. She is familiar with the 
negative feedback from parents and friends. "All of 
these kids have gone through a lot in coming out 
at such a young age. but they are still standing and 
have weathered the storm." 

According to Davies, Living Proof is trying to 
replace negative representations with more positive 
images and more positive messages. "These kids 

challenging stereotypes 
and presumptions of 
urban homosexuality 
through theatre. 

didn't represent suicide, depression, isolation, they 
represented the other side of the statistics, the resil- 
ience, the strength, and it's an important message 
for other kids to see — you can be gay and turn out 

The need for a positive message is important 
for teens, who do not have any positive role models 
according to Davies. Living Proof offers the teens 
that alternative. "The purpose of Liv- 
ing Proof is to foster positive self- 
images among GLBTQ teenagers 
through the creative arts," Davies 

Although other theatres have 
expressed interest in producing 
the Living Proof project after its 
Baltimore run. the play has been 
unable to tour because of inad- 
equate funding. 

Davies has shifted her 
focus to a documentary ver- 
sion of Living Proof She 
thinks that a nationally 
distributed documentary 
about the play could ex- 
press the message much 
more successfully than 
more localized pro- 
ductions of the play. 
Davies feels her doc- 
umentary, focusing 
on the positive sides 
of urban gay youth, is the first 
of its kind. "There was a very deep com- 
mitment made by all the participants so the docu- 
mentary follows a very in-depth process as well 
as a clear vision of their lives and what happened 
through doing this project." Davies said. 

For Erin Davies, the impact of the project has 
been profound. "It's probably the most important 
thing I've ever done in my life, or may ever do." "i^ 

James Monteleone is a journalism student at 
the University of Illinois Chicago. Reach him at 
Jmonte 12@ iiic. edit 

1976: Christopher Street, aka "the 
gay New Yorker," focusing on fic- 
tion and essays, starts publishing 
and continues until 1997. 

1979: The Tiffany Club in Bos- 
ton begins publishing the house 
newsletter, Tapestry, which later 
becomes affiliated with the Inter- 
national Foundation for Gender 
Education (1987) and is renamed 
Trar)sgender Tapestry, the leading 
periodical on transgender issues. 

1984: On Our Backs, the first sex 
magazine both by and for lesbians, 
begins publishing. 

1986: GB Jones and Bruce La 

Bruce in Toronto start the under- 
ground zine J.D.'s which kicks off 
queercore, as both a music move- 
ment and set of political writings. 

1988: HOMOCORE, written by 
and for queer punks and other anti- 
assimilationists, starts in San Fran 
by Tom Jennings and publishes 
until 1991. 

1988: Donna Dresch puts out the 
fanzine Chainsaw in Olympia and 
her writings help kick off Pacific 
Northwest riotgrri music scene. 

1989: Larry-bob publishes the first 
issue of the zine Holy Titclamps, 
which later starts to include the in- 
sert Queer Zine Explosion, a cata- 
log that reviews other queer zines. 

1990: The National Lesbian and 
Gay Journalists Association (NL- 
GJA) is founded. 

1991: The lesbian magazine De- 
neuve begins publishing. Named 
because of the founder's love for 
the French actress, it was renamed 
Curve in 1995 because of a trade- 
mark lawsuit. 

1991: Anything That Moves, the 
first glossy national magazine on 
bisexual issues and life, begins 
publishing. It stops in 2004. 

1994: POZ Magazine, the first 
glossy devoted to chronicling the 
HIV epidemic exclusively, begins 

1997: Window Media LLC begins 
acquiring, operating, and con- 
solidating existing newspapers 
to become the nation's largest 
LESBIGY newspaper publisher. It 
currently owns Washington Blade, 
New Yorl( Blade, Southern Voice, 
Express Gay News, and Ho''^*'^ 

piled by Raymond Johnson 





For those familiar with the world of fetish, specifi- 
cally the Creation Books cult classic City Of Bro- 
ken Dolls by Remain Slocombe (Someone please 
bring it back into print!), the name "BrokenDollz" 
will bring to mind images of women in bandages 
and casts, despite the contemporary spelling. You 
know, damaged goods. And perhaps that's what 
this site unintentionally delivers. 

BrokenDollz is a punk rock girl pom site in 
the vein of the groundbreaking SuicideGiris. Ac- 
cording to the "About" page, a broken doll in this 
context is a "girl who is secure in herself and does 
as she pleases. She is unrestricted by the rules 
and regulations of the worid around her." "Doing as 
she pleases" can translate, on this site, into hump- 
ing graves (as Meira does in a video) or mastur- 
bating behind a barn at a family reunion (which is 
Zoe's video contribution). 

Right up front, BrokenDollz lets you know 
what kind of site this is. The model on the first 
page — a red-dreadded, pierced, heavily tattooed 
giri with in a new, Hot Topic-y Creepshow t-shirt 
— cleariy announces that this is an alternative 
porn site. "Alternative" meaning that it offers a re- 
freshing sanctuary for those who are tired of the 
silicone and Photoshop gloss. 

The rest of the site, however, seems to still be 
in its infancy, providing little non-member content 
to entice joining up. In the News section, a single 
message, posted in October of 2004, informs the 
viewer that the site is still being developed. The 
rest of the content is made up of a couple of re- 
views (a vibrator, a Fantomas album and the last 
Descendents record), some love letters, and a 
handful of videos of varying degrees of sensuality. 
(It gets embarrassing for everyone involved when 
the giris try to act, though. And on a personal note: 
please, stop the whole treating the dildo like it's a 
cock and it turns you on schtick when you're orally 
prepping it. You're not fooling anyone.) 

A few cams, some photo galleries, and an 
auction link to eBay with no current auctions round 
out what should make up a majority of the content 
here. The site also offers a merchandise section 
which is linked out to a second party despite prom- 
ising they are only going to bring you the "top of 
the line" quality merchandise they have sought out 
and researched Evidently Phallix Glass is as good 
as it gets in the BrokenDollz world. 

As for community, there are message boards 
where the most recent post is over a month old. 

Finally, the site is abundant in one dubious 
area — typos. Sex workers or not, there's no ex- 
cuse for sloppy composition. What are you teach- 
ing the kids? 

Basically, BrokenDollz is a site to watch. 
Should they start posting some content, it will help 
clanfy if the site is abandoned or )ust incomplete. 
Everyone loves a tattooed giri. Especially one 

armed with a vibrator. So here's hoping BrokenD- 
ollz gets it's act together. Right now though, its a 
site in casts and bandages. 
-Benn Ray 

Dominatrix Waitrix: 

a sci-fi queer romp video by Edith Edit, 2004 

The plot? A scheming scientist identified as "the dis- 
patcher" creates a doppelganger whose purpose is 
to substitute harassed waiters and waitresses for a 
day relieving the oppressed of their duties — and 
supposedly their will. The dispatcher's more sinis- 
ter objective is to possess and ultimately dominate 
the service providers — perhaps by allowing his (?) 
minion to divide (their legs) and conquer. 

Eve Minax plays "Client #1," the first lucky 
waitress. The Dominatrix Waitrix (Sache, who also 
plays the dispatcher) comes to give her a day off — 
but not before getting her off in a charming scene 
of mild S&M with a peppermill. The grateful client 
becomes obsessed with her savior/conqueror and 
makes a deal with the dispatcher to assume the 
roles of DW's future waitpersons-cum-partners. 
Subsequent scenes depict brief sex scenarios 
played out by various pairs of actors/actresses, 
who are — in unreality — Client # 1 and the DW. 
Eventually, the two leads reunite as themselves on 
the stage of a sex club. But the tables have turned. 
Client #1 , taking control, seals the submissive DM 
in a chastity belt. Wow. This ironic and TOTALLY 
UNEXPECTED TWIST somehow inspires the club 
patrons to engage in all sorts of sexual contortions 
to their seeming satisfaction. (According to the 
filmmaker, DW is smart porn, which presumably 
means no "money shots" are caught on camera.) 
The concluding orgy results in a less than tender, 
but no less than happy ending. 

The only actor who comes out of this film 
half unscathed is Minax, who plays the busty and 
beleaguered Client #1 . Though far from perfect, 
she does have presence. Under a more seasoned 
director, she might be able to give a full-bodied 
performance that matches her physicality. Sache, 
however, plays neither of her roles well Whether 
donning absurd eyelashes as the DW or Fu Man- 
chu facial hair as the dispatcher, it is hard to be- 
lieve she is the object of anyone's desire. Unfortu- 
nately, not much of the supporting cast has either 
the acting skills or attractiveness to outshine her 

At 44 minutes, Dominatnx Waitrix could 
have benefited from another ten minutes or so of 
continuity. What might have worked as a piece of 
performance art in front of a live, sympathetic audi- 
ence doesn't really succeed on film. To be sure, it 
does echo some of the requisites of mainstream 
porn, including bad acting, absurd dialogue, and 
plenty of big breasts. 

But Edith E. probably had something higher 
in mind Perhaps the peppermill thrust into Client 

#1 represents both pleasure and pain, emotions 
that DW claims are 'all we ever need." Making a 
point about the fine line between those who dom- 
inate and those who submit, however, is nothing 
new. And yet... even if the viewer doesn't find the 
actors alluring or believable, the writing provoca- 
tive, or the sex satisfying, s/he just might get off 
on this "romp." With the makeshift sets, amateur- 
ish direction, and cross-dressed cast, there is 
something to be had here. Perhaps the filmmaker 
aspires to be the Ed Wood of performance pom. 
And just like that somehow unforgotten auteur. 
Edit may have accomplished just what she set 
out to do: turn pain into unintentional pleasure 
— or something to that effect. 
-Stephen Ryan 


A Field Guide for Feminist Activism 

by Jennifer Baumgardner 
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 

From time to time the mainstream media likes 
to announce the death of feminism, as did Time 
Magazine in their cover story on June 23, 1998. 
Cleariy the authors of such unfounded obituaries 
haven't read the work of Jennifer Baumgardner or 
Amy Richards, two of the most outspoken leaders 
of the third wave. 

Their new book, Grassroots: A Field Guide 
for Feminist Activism, is a testament to the vital 
movement being led by young feminists. Baum- 
gardner and Richards use case studies to illustrate 
how flexible and fun activism can be. Many of their 
examples are what you would expect: high school- 
er Allison Sparkuhl from Santa Barbara started 
a feminist club and Barnard students advocated 
for a sexual misconduct policy But Baumgardner 
and Richards also deliberately include examples 
enacted in spaces not previously thought of as 
subversive, even, gasp, corporate America. It is 
their wise conviction that activism should be or- 
ganic. If you are spending all day as one of my 
good friend's says, "making sweet love to the copy 
machine," then this is as good a place as any to 
start saving the worid— one stolen protest flyer at 
a time. 

Baumgardner and Richards write: "When 
people express confusion about feminism or dis- 
comfort with the label, it is because feminism is 
presented as a concept or a theory (what books 
we have read or classes we have taken) and not 
action or experience (what we have done that af- 
fects the status of women or changed our own 
lives.)" To their credit, this pair has gracefully 
fused the two in this important new tome for young 
■Courtney Martin 

Women Against Wars, 
Wars Against Women 

Directed, with brief introductions by Lydia Sargent 

Z Video Productions, 2004 

The international anti-war movement proves that any view of the 
United States as savior of the world is widely unpopular. The 
Left stringently critiques US unilateral "foreign policy" but largely 
ignores the harmful effects of war on the women of Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Organizations like Feminist Majority have linked 
gender and war, but most Western feminists speak for rather 
than with their counterparts in the "East." Gender oppression in 
the 'Third World" is usually discussed only in the context of reli- 
gious and ideological beliefs, without any consideration of how 
violence and a global "war against teaor" might affect women. 

Women against Wars. Wars against Women is an impor- 
tant corrective to stereotypical perceptions about women in the 
Third World/Global South. The DVD features four prominent 
and outspoken public figures at the 2004 World Social Forum in 
Mumbai, India. 

They include Nawal el Saddawi (novelist), the Arundhati 
Roy (writer), Saher Saba (head of RAWA, Revolutionary As- 
sociation of Women of Afghanistan), and Irene Khan (Intema- 
tional Secretary General of Amnesty Intemational). Each woman 
questions a new global economic order that reinforces gender 
inequality. Their speeches reminded me that the terminologies 
and conceptual frameworks of anti-war and pro-feminist move- 
ments are not global or universal. 

Nawal el Saddawi criticizes Parisian Muslim women who 
marched for their right to wear the veil while wearing makeup, 
which she calls a "postmodern veil" manufactured by multina- 
tional corporations. Sadawi's points are provocative and unset- 
tling and they complicate the connections we make between the 
freedom to "choose" consumer goods and our rights as citizens. 

Arjndhati Roy discusses the changes in gender relations 
among Adivasis of India, whose tribe has historically valued 
women as much as men. However, when the government buys 
their land, they give the money only to the men, creating a new 
economic and gendered hierarchy. 

Saher Saba reminds us of the real history of Afghanistan, 
where oppression began with the Soviet invasion of 1979 and 
continues with the US support of the Taliban and the Northern 
Alliance, even though both groups brutalize women. 

Irene Khan argues that feminists in the West cannot be 
complacent about their freedom: domestic violence is the lead- 
ing cause of death of Western women aged 16-44. 

This is a useful video, but I do have some concerns. The 
editing seems to merge sentences; I wonder if this created unin- 
tended meanings. The session's presenter provides an excellent 
overview of the issues, but remains unnamed. All four women 
are reductively identified as their countries' representatives, but 
they are in fact internationally known professionals affiliated with 
organizations like Amnesty. I'd recommend this DVD for classes 
or discussion groups, but only if accompanied by the writings of 
these accomplished women. 
-Yasmin Nair 

In the summer of 2002, I suffered many trips to segregation for standing 
up for my own and others' rights. Soon after. I started Tenacious. My hope 
was to create a zine that would connect women and people on both sides 
of the fence. 

My sister and I were arrested in May 1995 for two second-degree rob- 
beries. Under Oregon's mandatory minimum law. Measure 1 1 , we were sen- 
tenced to 140 months even though it was our first offense. Under Measure 
1 1 . we must do day for day, no good time or time cuts. Under the old sentenc- 
ing guidelines, we would have received 12 to 24 months' probation. 

My sister and I both had toddlers who witnessed our arrest. Police burst 
through our apartment door with guns drawn, ordering everyone onto the 
ground, including our handicapped mother. We were very lucky to have fam- 
ily members step in to take our children before Protective Services could be 
called by the police. 

We entered Oregon's prison system in October 1995. In October 1996, 
my sister and I, along with 76 other women, were transferred to a for-profit 
prison, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in Arizona. While at CCA, 
we were all subjected to sexual assault, harassment, and rape by prison offi- 
cials. As this was going on, I became acquainted with people who were (and 
still are) active in protests concerning women's issues throughout the worid. 
One of those individuals was Anthony Rayson of South Chicago ABC Zine 
Distro. Anthony encouraged me to write articles and to think about starting a 
zine dealing with women's issues in prison. 

In February 2000, Oregon DOC officials classified me as "Security Threat 
Group" (gang enforcement) as an anarchist because I corresponded with An- 
thony, Rob Los Ricos, and other strong individuals, both inside and out, who 
stood up for their rights and the rights of others. I am no longer able to have 
contact with these brave people. Prison has included one injustice after an- 
other, all of which have just made me angrier than when I was first committed. 

When I started "Tenacious," my goal was to unite women prisoners 
and get their stories to people in the outside worid. I wanted the voices of 
women in prison — who are also mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, 
and nieces — to be heard. With the help of a small group of women on the 
outside, we have put out three issues of Tenacious — These issues have 
exposed the harassment and abuse of women prisoners across the country 
and taught people on the outside how they can help. The fourth issue will be 
out soon. In addition, to recognize the fact that 80 percent of women in prison 
are mothers, we plan to complete a Mother's Day issue. 
-Barrilee Gispert Bannister 

In 1996. Barrilee Bannister was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against 
the Corrections Corporation of America, which resulted in an apology for 
the sexual abuse in its prison, the payment of attorney fees, and the firing of 
three dozen guards. She has less than 800 days left on her sentence, at the 
end of which she hopes to reunite with her daughter If you write to her. do 
not mention the words ANARCHIST ANARCHISM, or ANARCHY. 
Barrilee Bannister, ff11309597 
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility 
PO Box 9000 
Wilsonville, OR 97070 



Granted, many people want their sex toys to be body parts, or to 
come in sparkly blue squishy material. But sometimes, it seems 
like a good idea to fuck with art objects, and this is where glass sex toys 
come in. Taken from their silly, faux scientific and occasionally creepy 
packaging, glass sex toys are amazing looking. They are hard. They are 
inflexible. They are unlike flesh. And they are great. 

When you look at the picture of cherry online, it resembles the ."eth- 
nic" martini glasses that used to cover the shelves of every store that sold 
glassware in 1999. Luckily, when you get it in your pretty little hands, it's 
beautiful. The glass stripes around the shaft of the cock-shaped glass 
are evenly distnbuted and unlumpy; there's a nice divot in the shaft, and 
a cute and not distracting picture of two chernes inlaid into the tip of the 
dildo. The stripes are sizable enough that you can feel them if you have 
your hand in a person's butt and the dildo in their vulva (or vice versa), 
which is fun for the person wielding the dildo. Cherry is 6.5 x 1 .5 inches, 
so it's a pretty serious level of penetration, particularly for butts — since 
glass is hard, there's not the squish that help larger toys fit in smaller 
holes. However, because glass is slippery as heck, particularly with sili- 
cone lube, things may fit in places you'd never expect. Because it's made 
of glass, its possible (in a well-lit scenano) to see inside of the person that 
you're fucking, which could be fun for all of you who watch documentaries 
on PBS. I had to go out and buy an o-ring for my harness that was super 
tight around the bottom of cherry, and I still felt nervous fucking someone 
with a harness, but I am a person who breaks everything, so your mileage 
may vary. Either way, if you're looking for a glass dildo, you could hardly 
go wrong with this one. 

But what if you want to put glass in someone's ass, and they are 
not into major penetration? Ah, then the bubble wand is the thing you 
want. It's a curved stick of graduated blobs of glass. The glass is clear, 
and I think even more beautiful than glass toys that use colored glass. (I 
have a Bauhaus approach to sex toys.) You could leave it in plain view 
without many double takes from strangers. Like all borosilicate (a.k.a. 
Pyrex) glass sex toys, it can be gently warmed in the microwave or 
cooled in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes for sensation play. If the 

idea of a hot or cold hard thing slipping into you or someone you play 
with sounds swell. Id suggest you invest, pronto. The bubble wand is 
long enough to be able to penetrate someone else or yourself without 
ending up a slippery pile of lube and mess, which I really appreciate. It 
can be used for rubbing on the inside or the outside of the vulva, and it 
did an okay job of g-spot stimulation with a little wiggling, and thus was 
found to be the most versatile toy in this sample. 

But what if you want a toy designed (from what I can tell) for g-spot 
stimulation'' Then the archer wand is the one. It looks like a curved bar- 
bell, made of glass. The two balls on the end are 1.5 inches in diameter, 
and the bar that connects them is .75 inches in diameter and about 6 or 
7 inches long. This toy is the sparsest and, thus, the most beautiful of all. 
It's possible to stimulate one's own or someone else's g-spot with this 
toy, and going down on someone while using this toy in a vulva is a little 
complicated, but possible. I'm not sure if this toy is recommended for butt 
play, but since a willing ass was available to the testing team, this toy was 
found to be quite intense for butt play, but possibly good for those who like 
major stimulation. This toy is also great for sensation play and looks even 
more like an art object for those who don't like to put their toys away but 
also don't like other people to know they have toys. 

It's worth saying that glass sex toys are pricey Admittedly, it's a 
risk to buy something that offers such a specific kind of sensation — but 
honestly, they are so much fun. They look so nice. There are so many 
options about how to play with them. They are completely sterilizable (for 
germ-phobes, neat freaks, or people with multiple partners). They match 
with every fathomable lube. They are insanely slippery. They are worth 
the risk. 

All the toys I tried are from Toys in Babeland (, 
who have welcoming and non-creepy stores in fi^anhattan, Seattle, and 
on-line. NOTE: Glass toys don't break unless you drop them really hard 
against a really hard floor — so caution is necessary In our tests, they 
took a lot of stress without any discemable damage. If one cracks, throw 
it away immediately 
-Laura Mintz 

Cherries, Bubble Wands, and Archers: The Beauty of Glass Toys 


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Farai Chideya on Working Assets Radio 

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what we're talking about 


Glass House 

Margaret Morton 

Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004 

Margaret Morton's Glass House is one of the very 
few bool<s written specifically about squatting 
on New York's Lower East Side. It is the only 
one about Glass House, a glass factory on the 
corner of Avenue D and East 10th Street that was 
abandoned in 1973 and reclaimed by squatters in 

Although primarily a photography book of the 
squatters and their home. Glass House is also 
a record of individual histories. Some of these 
stories, like that of Merlin, who spent his last years 
occupying the corner outside the Con Edison 
power plant on East 6th Street and Avenue A , 
might have been lost had Morton not taken the 
time to record them. 

Glass House includes not only the personal 
histories of the residents she photographed, but 
also stories of the neighborhood itself— of the 
nearby Foetus squat, which burned in 1992, and 
of the abandoned glass factory, which was to 
become Glass House. These small details of the 

Lower East Side are often overlooked and might 
also have been lost had Morton not taken the time 
to include them in her book. 

However, Glass House fails to capture the 
sense of empowerment and resistance found in 
the act of squatting. Instead, many of the individual 
histories place squatting not as a deliberate act of 
resistance against the city's real estate politics, 
but rather one of adolescent rebellion that will 
eventually be outgrown. Morton ends the oral 
history of a younger resident with the statement: 
"The novelty has worn off. I think I need to do 
something more. It was necessary, I did it, I'm 
doing it, and now I'm done with it. Now it's time for 
me to move on." For one older resident, squatting 
seems to be a way to avoid both work and adult 
responsibilities: "I get up when I want. I go to bed 
when I want. I'm mercifully, happily unemployed." 

Although Morton photographed and documented 
some of the building's older residents, she states 
that "most [of the group were] between seventeen 
and twenty-one." Morton refers to the squatters as 
"young people," ignoring the fact that several of the 
building's residents whom she both interviewed 
and photographed were in their thirties and forties. 
However, even their oral histories focus more on 
their childhoods and adolescences— their sense 
of not belonging among their peers, distant or 
abusive parents, and their search for acceptance 

— thus making them conform to the stereotype of 
a squatter as a young punk. 

Their stories provide little social or political 
context — virtually no one talks about the city's real 
estate politics or their underlying political beliefs 
that have either emerged from squatting or coexist 
with their current lifestyles. Instead, squatting is 
seen as a temporary solution, a waystation in the 
process of growing up. 

Two of the individual histories touch on some of the 
political happenings of the neighborhood. However, 
they are simply snippets of something bigger that 
neither Morton nor her subjects explore the outside 
environment and its effects in any depth. 

For instance, there is no mention of the volatile 
1993 Community Board meeting about the future 
of Glass House in which the Board chairman had 
not only squatters but sympathetic Community 
Board members arrested. Neither Morton nor her 
subjects acknowledge that Glass House's eviction 
was politically motivated: that the building was 
sought by Pueblo Nuevo, a housing organization 
affiliated with the neighborhood's conservative 
City Councilmember Antonio Pagan; that Pueblo 
Nuevo sought to build a hospice for AIDS patients 
on that site and ignored the fact that many of the 
Glass House residents were HIV positive; that 
Pueblo Nuevo and Pagan supporters opposed 
a proposed project by Housing Works to build 





supportive housing for People with AIDS only a 
few blocks away, arguing that such housing would 
adversely affect the neighborhood. Including these 
facts would have placed Glass House — and its 
squatters — in a larger political and historical 
context. Instead, Morton ignores them, placing the 
building in a social and political bubble 

Despite these shortcomings, Morton's book 
is one of too few wntten about the squats on the 
Lower East Side. Her photographs— both of the 
buildings residents and its spaces— are the first to 
be made widely available to the general public. 
-Victoria Law 

The No-Nonsense Guide 
to Global Media 

Peter Steven 

New Internationalist/Verso, 2004, 

Consider this: most of what we know about the 
world beyond our immediate lives comes from "the 
media." Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and 
the Internet overflow with a never-ending deluge 
of information. While we cannot, as Peter Steven 
asserts in the No-Nonsense Guide to Global 
Media (one in a series of excellent No-Nonsense 
Guides from New InternationalistA/erso) locate 
a monolithic Media, we can observe the vast 
and varied networks and outlets issuing us all 
the news they find fit to phnt. Since information 
is a nutrient alleged to be vital to the health of a 
democratic society, it seems essential to our civic 
well being that all members of this society be 
given unhindered access to the most information 
possible. Whether or not this occurs is something 
Steven methodically explores in his work. He 
writes to illuminate the massive scope and power 
of what he terms the "dominant media," as well as 
smaller international media outlets. 

From content to impact, economics to technology, 
Steven explores the many segments and influences 
of media. It would be convenient for the author to 
couch his analysis in a leftist theoretical critique, 
but Steven instead chooses to examine the media 
through a broad lens. He writes from vanous 
standpoints, though always skeptically This lends 
a sturdy element of objectivity, though he would 
readily acknowledge his biases 

Where the book succeeds most is in its 
consideration of media outside the prominent 
corporate-run U.S. "cultural industries." We learn 
about the power of the telenovelas of Brazil, the 
importance of singer Nusrat Fateh All Khan in 
India and the subversive potential of cheap video 

films on Nigerian society. Too often the Western 
world forgets that there is more to media than 
Rupert Murdoch and Hollywood. This isn't to 
underestimate their power or downplay their global 
significance, as Steven believes that one of the 
U.S.'s prime exports is its media product. 

Steven emphasizes the power of commerce 
over the production of media product and 
discusses the role of hegemony as transmitted 
and maintained by the media conglomerates. 
But the heart of the matter is each one of our 
responses to what we see, hear and read. In 
The No-Nonsense Guide to Global Media. Peter 
Steven reminds us that we need to become 
critical media consumers and work towards 
building more democratic media alternatives. 
■Casey Boland 

(ed. note: Jeremy Seabrooks' The No-Nonsense 
Guide to World Poverty was reviewed in Clamor 
#30 (Jan/Feb 2004) and a review of The No- 
Nonsense Guide to Woman's Rights appears on 
the next page). 

On Subbing: The First Four Years 


Microcosm, 2004 

This is a collection from the first four years of a 
zine called On Subbing. It's a day-by-day from 
Dave, a substitute Education Assistant. Being a 
substitute teacher is a funny life, and I've had a 
lot of fun sharing my own stories of subbing with 
friends — some of them completely unbelievable 
— and was pleased to read that Dave was running 
into similar situations. He is mostly in special 
education classes, which adds to the drama and 
there's an element of hilarity but also sadness as 
about these aspects of the education system and 
how these people are treated. I must also say that 
I have never been kicked in the crotch, or puked 
on, or told I look like Steve Urkel. He has it kind of 
rough, but it's really nice to go through the process 
and see him begin to really enjoy it. 

Because he is assigned to all different age 
groups and schools, his experiences are never 
limited. He also goes to some of the same 
classrooms where the students know him already 
and a relationship starts And Dave takes a great 
approach to his job, taking it seriously enough to 
please the administration, but knowing that school 
can suck for kids. 

He recommends that this book be read in 
intervals, and I can see why It can become a little 

redundant if read straight through. It is a journal 
of his job though, what do you expect? I'm still 
excited to pick it up when I'm coming back to it 
— I'm sorry, but a kick in the crotch never really 
gets old, or the excitement of reading about one. 
I wish his students knew how cool Dave is. 
His writing is witty and sarcastic, but still kind of 
sensitive. A kind of a pathetic character at times, 
he's like the brilliant kid in school that couldn't 
impress people with sports or social skills, but had 
an amazing sense of the world, and a humor to 
deflect anything. 

Under The Perfect Sun 

Mike Davis. Kelly Mayhew, and Jim Miller 
The New Press, 2003 

Google San Diego and what do you find? The world 
famous zoo, hotels, the convention center and a 
general sense of bnght. positive vibes. You might 
have to dig a few pages deeper to discover anything 
remotely dystopian. This is exactly what Mike Davis. 
Jim Miller, and Kelly Mayhew have done in Under 
the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tounsts Never See. 
They've gone a few pages deeper. 

Divided into three sections. Under the Perfect 
Sun races past the boosterific image of a sun- 
soaked promised land to illuminate the real San 
Diego, the city where people actually live and work. 

Mike Davis begins the book with an ironically 
restrained examination of San Diego's private 
governments. In his account, a lengthy procession 
of weak, often corrupt, city governments allowed 
unelected robber barons like Spreckels. Scnpps. 
Smith and Spanos to gain control over the levers 
of power. Simultaneously, the ubiquitous military- 
industnal presence created an environment where 
city leaders, both official and unofficial, decned 
government interference while manically feeding 
at the public trough 

In the next section, Jim Miller excavates 
the underground history of San Diego's labor 
movement. As would be expected, the private 
govemments descnbed in Davis' chapters were 
relentlessly opposed to any hint of dissent, 
suppressing the I. WW. with the efficiency of a 
South American dictatorship. Later, the National 
Steel and Shipbuilding Company would use less 
violent, but equally njthless, strategies to dismantle 
their unions. Miller also highlights a particulariy 
amusing episode, in which anarchists conquer 
Tijuana, only to be co-opted by San Diego boosters 
and betrayed by incompetent leadership 



Under the Perfect Sun finishes with Kelly 
Mayhew's enlightening series of interviews with 
students, teachers, immigrants and community 
and labor activists. These discussions reveal 
the large segment of San Diego's population 
for whom the region's prosperity is a cruel 
and unrelenting joke. Their goals are lofty, yet 
modest: affordable housing: non-toxic air and 
water; a living wage; social justice. Ultimately, 
Mayhew's chapters give a voice to those 
who had been disenfranchised by the people 
described by Davis and Miller. 

Despite it's intensity. Under the Perfect Sun 
is an accessible, often moving, account of 
tragicomic events in a surreal city. For those 
who visit a tourist destination like San Diego and 
wonder what it's really like to live there,' this is 
your ticket. 
-Joshua Baxt 

The Philadelphia Independent #20 

Matthias Schwatz. Editor & Publisher 
Independent Newspaper, 2004 

To anyone who has worked in independent 
media, the Philadelphia Independent is a pretty 
impressive creature — a full-size plus newspaper 
chock full of insight, smart and informed writing 
that has made it to a 20th issue. While the 
Independent fills many of the roles of a traditional 
weekly culture' rag that every metro has (and 
seemingly does so respectably — it's tough for 
a Toledoan to know), it also does a yeoman's job 
of covering the left side of the Philly metropole 
This issue is the first after the cataclysmic failure 
of democracy know as the 2004 general election 
and much time is dedicated to a wailing and 
gnashing of teeth appropriate to the occasion, 
but it is the stories of local interest that shine. 
Coverage of an indy paper created in response 
to a small-community newspaper's purchase 
by the Knight-Ritter multinational reminds us 
that people, even bourgie suburban types, 
can capture media space from the Man to 
positive ends. I'm not gonna lie and say that 
the Philadelphia Independent's writing always 
appealed to me (too much Baffler damage) but 
it is well done, committed, and pretty engaging. 
Go to the website and check it out yourself - just 
because I'm a jaded jerk doesn't mean you 
shouldn't dig it. 
-Keith McCrea 

The No-Nonsense Guide 
to Women's Rights 

Nikki van der Gaag 

New InternationalistA/erso, 2004 


Secrets & Confidences: 
The Complicated Truth 
About Women's Friendships 

Karen Eng. ed. 
Seal Press, 2004 

Both of these books challenge us to examine 
women's relationships to one another and to the 
world. Eng and van der Gaag have deliberately 
tackled issues that are not sufficiently discussed in 
mainstream media and give us much to consider. 

'It is often hard to nail down concrete facts and 
statistics, especially about under-the-radar issues 
like women's rights. In The No-Nonsense Guide to 
Women's Rights, the latest in New Intemationalist/ 
Verso's excellent 'No Nonsense' series, Nikki van 
der Gaag provides a surpnsingly satisfying amount 
of coverage for a compact book including sections 
on "Woman as global consumer," "Women and the 
environment," and "Literacy and learning: make 
education your husband." Interesting tables, graphs, 
and anecdotes break up the reading, and van der 
Gaag's feariessly feminist stance is energizing. 

In Secrets & Confidences, Karen Eng collected 
first hand accounts that convey the love, jealousy, 
loyalty, and heartbreak of women's friendships. 
The writers, essayists, professors, and cartoonists 
reveal their own experiences with wit and honesty. 
Instead of being warm and fuzzy this collection 
that attempts to grasp the reality of women's 
complex relationships. The anthology includes 
stories featuring the controlling, attention-stealing 
girifriend and the one that disappears when we 
have kids. It was refreshing to read these stories, 
the sweet and the sad, that examine women's 
strong bonds to one another. 

Taken together these books challenge us to 
create a more holistic view of women's place in 
their worids, both political and personal and, as 
feminism has taught us, the interstices of those are 
where the real work of improving lives is done. 
-Michelle Alletto 

Ideas in Pictures #4 

PO. Box 510214 
Milwaukee, Wl 53203 

Artist Colin Matthes combines edgy illustrations 
and live and direct social commentary in this 
graphically exhilarating zine. Mostly portraits, the 
illustrations jump out of the page in bold black 
and white lines, splotches and cross-hatchings. 
Matthes takes care and deliberation in the design 
of Ideas in Pictures and graphics and text are 
well placed visually. The zine comes wrapped in 
a used manila folder with a two color illustration 
on the front and back covers. Issue #4 focuses 
on a strike against Tyson Foods in Jefferson, 
Wl by Local 538 workers while delving into the 
relationship between agribusiness and animal 
suffering. Matthes' decision to concentrate on a 
single theme in each issue should allow for more 
exploration both intellectually and visually. 
-Renoir Gaither 


What the Government is Still 

Hiding about the War on Terror 

Peter Lance 
Regan Books, 2004 

The recent embarrassing collapse of Bernard 
Kerick's nomination as Homeland Security chief 
provides an opportunity to remind ourselves 
that, in their shameless rush to exploit the death 
of 3,000 people for political gain, the Bush 
Administration has proven itself totally full of shit 
about the 9/11 attacks. In Cover-Up. Emmy-award 
winning investigative reporter Peter Lance offers 
a reasonably up-to-date inventory of the lies, 
prevarications, and obfuscations of our lame- 
chimp president and his fellow Mafiosi. 

Lance's book takes two approaches. First, he 
continues the work he began in his 2002 book 1000 
Years of Revenge by examining the failure of our 
intelligence agencies to effectively analyze clues 
leading up to the 9/11 attacks (the second attack 
on the Worid Trade Center by Islamist radicals) 
Here he examines a small mountain of evidence 
that pointed to attacks by Islamist radicals using 
planes as bombs. Lance cites a refusal of FBI 
personnel to take seriously a jail-house informant 
who had spoken extensively to Ramzi Yousef, 
dubbed the 'mastermind of the 9/11 attacks' by 
the 9/11 Commission and the nephew of ranking 
al-Qaeda leader Khalid Shaik Mohammed. In the 

"3't;d«.V[,,liu i£il _"> i;,Vl»,;J»„l 







second part of the book, Lance makes an effort to 
make up for the failures of the 9/11 report. While 
Lance acknowledges the 9/11 Commission faced 
an uphill battle against a secretive and lying- 
assed administration, he takes pains to bring to 
light evidence the commission either missed or 
ignored, especially regarding the breakdow/n of 
U.S. air defenses. 

This book will leave you frustrated and 
exhausted thanks to the persuasiveness of his 
arguments and his tireless research, as if the 
re-election of Bush didn't leave you frustrated 
or exhausted enough. Cover-Up is a valuable 
addition to the growing literature examining what 
really happened on 9/11/2001. 
-Keith McCrea 

Baby Bloc Zine 

Triggs family 

Baby Bloc promises to be one of the most 
interesting activist publications you ever come 
across. The front page of each zine says it all; this 
is "for activist 'In a Family Way'." 

Baby Bloc is created for the activist-minded 
parent who takes their children to civil-disobedience 
demonstrations, marches, parades, and such. 
They are filled with pictures of both mothers and 
fathers at various events — all with children in 
tow. Its presentation is crude, three or four letter- 
sized colored sheets of paper folded in half with 
two staples. Handwritten amendments are added 
wherever a sentence or two was missing. It looks 
like the kind of zine someone would hand you in a 
dark alley and tell you to 'pass it on ' Once you open 
the zine and begin to read the material, however, 
the presentation really doesn't weigh in much. 
Between the straight-talk on some controversial 
issues to the book reviews of literature most likely 
banned from your public library, the content is 
excellent. One article in particular, "Mercury In 
Tuna: Endangenng Low-income Moms." gave 
me some new solid facts on a national ecological 
issue, and a fresh point of view I never thought of 

Even if you don't agree with everything you 
read, or the methodologies suggested, you have 
to give it to them for being strong enough in their 
convections to share them with such zeal The 
Baby Bloc staff focus on national social issues that 
are normally neglected airtime in the mainstream 
media. Fun little drawings and bizarre pictures will 
keep you turning the pages of this zine, making it 
a quick and easy read. 
-Yolanda Best 


At The Drive-ln 

Re-issueof all their shit... 
Fearless Records, 2004 

An At the Drive-ln re-issue? Just seven years 
removed from their debut full-length release and 
four years since their final release? Oh, a re-issue 
... not a box set, so, hell yeah! It's hard to believe 
that it has been seven years since ATDI exploded 
out of El Paso, Texas and that it has been nearly 
five years since the final ATDI full length. 

Fearless Records, the label that released 
ATDI's breakthrough In/CASINO/OUT, as well 
as the outstanding follow-up Vaya has re-issued 
the previously out of pnnt Acrobatic Tenement. 
in/CASI NO/OUT. Vaya, and Relationship of 
Command, which was originally released on 
Grand Royal Records. This is important because 
neither Grand Royal nor Flipside, the original label 
for the debut Acrobatic Tenement are really in the 
business of releasing records any longer. 

The four re-issues span approximately four years 
and represent all but a handful of singles and some 
splits that ATDI made during that time. Acrobatic 
Tenement AJDl's first full length originally recorded 
in the summer of 1996 for Flipside Records is a 
great first effort and glimpses of what direction 
the band was heading can be heard in songs like 
Schaffino. Initiation, and Communication Dnve-ln. 

In/CASINO/OUT the first full length for 
Fearless Records and the breakthrough album 
for ATDI defies categorization, other than a must 
have. Eleven songs of energy and emotion bound 
together by afros and atomic tattoos. Vaya was 
the last Feariess Records effort for ATDI and may 
be the crown jewel of not only ATDI, but also the 
label. This album captures a very special band 
at their best. The rampant energy and power of 
earlier releases is now more focused and pointed 
on songs like "Heliotrope" and "igSd." 

Relationship of Command, At The Drive-in's final 
album and also one of Grand Royal's final releases 
has been included in the re-issues and also contains 
two previously unreleased songs, "Extracumcular" 
and "Catacombs " With songs like "arcarsenaf and 
"one-armed scissor," this is another great effort from 
ATDI before the break-up. 

Now all we need is Fearless Records to 
somehow re-issue an At The Dnve-ln live show, 
or maybe a box set with accompanying DVD of 
interviews, tour footage, and some of their live 
shows Its been five years! 
■Dennis Kepic 



Dim Mak, 2004 

If you're going to nix the vox, you'd better be able 
to play those instruments. That may seem a trivial 
request, yet so few instrumental bands sound 
capable of following it. Battles ooze prowess and 
ingenuity. They use the basic tools to construct 
an evocative piece of aural art: guitar, drums, 
keyboard, whatever other noise-creators in the 
arsenal -All this, without relying on voice or words. 
Your casual music consumer would be hard- 
pressed not to consider this band's pedigree: Don 
Caballero (their most detectable ancestor, thanks 
to guitanst Ian Williams's unmistakable style and 
tone), Tomahawk. Helmet, and Storm and Stress. 
Though they have big shoes to fill, the band 
ease right in and stomp over nostalgists. Listen 
to the opening track "SZ2," to the way the song 
utilizes repeated guitar lines over a syncopated 
drum pattern that then dramatically shifts into an 
entirely different section. It's abrupt yet somehow 
hangs together, with guitar riffs sticking long after 
they've ended. "Dance" boasts a cacophonous 
blend of electronics into the demented guitar/ 
drums mix. it's crazed and creative. "BTTS" 
is either genius or masturbation. The choice is 
yours, depending on whether or not you enjoy 
twelve minutes and twenty one seconds of 
minimal electronic wankery that offers no rhyme 
nor reason nor rhythm. Math rock? Who wants to 
listen to the quadratic equation? This is music for 
nsk-takers and thrill-seekers. 
•Casey Boland 


Shredders Dub CD 
Plug Research. 2004 

I'm always amazed when good things come from 
Canada: D.O.A., weed, Mike Myers, weed. John 
Candy, ice. Calamalka is from Canada as well, and 
while his name reminds me of Moloko Plus, his 
music IS the polar opposite of the visual hystena 
that was "A Clockwork Orange ' Everything starts 
with the drums, you can almost hear the track 
being brought to life as the track ensues. And you 
can also hear the overt reggae and dub influence 
on each one of these sonic palettes A couple 
clunkers stand out. not because they're bloody 
awful, but because there's so much possibility in 
each track Fear not. devoted listeners. Calamalka 
delivers the Canadian goods on a number of tunes 
though. We should probably just expect the best 

from a label such as Plug Research, and the best 
is what the rest of the album is. The electronic 
sounds (reminiscent of Pac-Man) at the beginning 
of "Bumpea" give way to the thundering kick of 
the dmm set and miniscule production glitches 
that serve as the counterpoint to the rhythm. 
Although this is an instrumental album (as much 
as that applies to electronic music) there is a vocal 
on "Reliable 1". Just a little line about having an 
indefinable style, but the piece works fantastically 
and with the scratching that comes in towards the 
end. it's surely one of the more entertaining and 
genre leaping of the tracks on here. So, what did 
we learn today, class? There's stuff other than 
weed that comes outta Bhtish Columbia that's 
useful and fulfilling. 
-Dave Cantor 

Caustic Christ 

Government Job 7" EP 
Havoc Records. 2004 

The strongest installment of burly HC yet from these 
Pittsburgh veterans. This is raging, thick. Midwest 
style 'core with a pronounced Scandinavian thrash 
influence. The guitars have that killer 'SOs midrange 
that we all love/need for this stuff, and the clipped, 
barked vocals evoke fond memories of Poison Idea. 
Add those Scandi-style galloping drums into the 
mixture and we gots a winner. While many current 
HC outfits tend to sacrifice hooks for pure speed 
and power, these guys have their game down pat. 
This stuff is catchy, man. The shorter format works 
best for them, with all the songs being top notch and 
attention grabbing. Yet another solid release from 
one of the greatest labels going, and at the top of 
the heap of their cun"ent releases. And mine came 
on lovely minty-fresh "Crest" colored vinyl Yum. 
•Chad Kelsey 

Del Cielo 

Us vs. Them CD 
Lovitt Records 

As we go to press with this issue, I'm lamenting the 
fact that my ass is going to be glued to a task chair 
in front of my monitor instead of running down the 
streets in DC to protest the gaudy inaugural fiasco. 
And now I'm doubly upset because I just got an email 
from a good friend letting me know that Del Cielo is 
playing a punk rock extravaganza in the nation's 
capitol with Anti-Flag, 1905, and Q and not U. If you 
haven't warmed yourself up to Dei Cielo yet, you 
might not know that you're missing one of the best 
rock trios to playing out right now. In an era (can we 
call this an era?) when everyone's in a band, and 
everyone's got a label, it's virtually impossible to set 
yourself apart from the herd. That is, unless you play 
the kind of sincere, emotionally powerful, thought- 
provoking rock n' roll that Del Cielo brings into the 
fray They'll be on tour this spring with labelmates 
and friends des_ark, so check em out. 
-Jason Kucsma 



Coup De Grace, 2004 

Put this magazine down, get up, leave wherever 
you're at, walk to your car, or hail a cab, or catch 
a bus, or take a goddamn plane if need be, head 
over to your local record store, open the front door, 
walk over to the clerk, clear your throat, stare in his 
or her eyes, smile (it pays to be polite), demand to 
purchase the debut album of Downtown, when he 
or she gives it to you say "thanks," pay whatever 
the cost is, walk out, get back into your car, or cab, 
or bus, or plane, go to your place of residence 
(whether it be an apartment, house, mom's 
basement — like yours truly), put the album into 
your CD player, press play, listen to the sounds 
coming out of your speakers, remind yourself 
that you're not listening to some unreleased 
tracks from a Pink Floyd/Beatles/Radiohead/U2 
jam session that could only exist in some bizarro 
place on the other side of the universe, drink in 
the melodies and chord changes that would make 
Lennon or Bryan Ferry nod in approval, close your 
eyes, realize that you're listening to quite possibly 
one of the best (if not THE best) debut album to 
come along in a long time, and when it's all said 
and done and the album has played itself through, 
press play once more, because tracks like 
"Twilight," "Thunderstorm," "Colorful Little Boxes," 
and "Nowhere to Hide" are what music is all about, 
and musicians like this duo (Robert Kaeding and 
Eric Brendo) are what keeps good music afloat 
in this sea of commercial stupidity, and when it's 
over, press play again, and repeat if needed. 
-Mike McHone 


s/t CDEP 

Dischord Records, 2004 

I'm not sure if every Dischord release is recorded 
at Inner Ear Studio, but enough of them have been 
that I've noticed. And Brendan Canty of Fugazi 
fame and glory mixed this one down. Not being 
in touch with the newest of the new Dischord 
acts, I have to take for granted that Medications 
fit into that sound. Ya know the press release 
says so anyway. Regardless of that, there's a 
little Minutemen influence on the guitar, which 
(somehow) is sung along to almost note for note 
on a few tracks. Going back to the Dischord family 
idea; even though I was able to buy the Minor 
Threat discography ten years ago for the price of 
this cd/ep, the tracks on here all clock in at about 
four minutes, so at least I get twenty minutes of 
new music. As for the notes that come outta your 
stereo, most of them are good ones, occasionally 
the band begins to sound like Weezer, but 
more talented and with louder instruments. So, 
simultaneously that's endearing and aggravating. 
The cowbell rears its ugly head on "Excersize Your 
Futility" while the track somehow maintains the 

sound of urgency that not too many groups can 
achieve. Departing from the frenetic pace of other 
tracks, "Reconcile Awake" is served with smooth 
drumming becoming tense without the track being 
overbearing. Unfortunately, someone decided 
to stick a clunker on at the end of this slab. "The 
Perfect Target" sounds similar to most average 
rock songs, only adding in some dissonant chords 
during the chorus for good measure. I don't think 
there's anything bad about this band or this 
release, but let us refrain from canonization until 
a full length comes out. 
-Dave Cantor 

MF Doom 

MM.. Food 

Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2004 

As far as traditional-styled beats go (as opposed to 
the Anticon/Plague Language style) no one does it 
better than Doom. Concept albums galore. Doom 
doesn't rest. MM. ..Food, technically the follow up 
to Operation: Doomsday, continues the goofiness 
that is much appreciated. I mean, "Hoe Cakes," 
what's better than that? But amidst all of the jokes. 
Doom really talks about relationships. In "Deep 
Fried Frenz" he says, "Call you when they need 
something/Trees for the Bluntin.'" See, Super- 
Villains don't like to be taken advantage of either. 
They have feelings. A vocal sample on "Poo-Putt 
Platter" says "Negro humor always escaped 
me," and I say that I may miss a Jesse Jackson 
reference every now and then, but it's amusing 
nonetheless. Grover, amuses me too, and it 
sounds as if he's talking on "Fig Leaf Bicarbonate." 
I would like more than a single Guinness. And as if 
Doom knew it, he had Angelika guest on that track. 
It's rare to hear good rappers and even more rare 
to hear good rappers that happen to be female. 
"How come all of you college boys wear those 
faggoty white shoes?" Good question. Only more 
entertainment follows. I have nothing all that deep 
to proclaim. But i do know that this slab is worth 
the cost of listening. 
-Dave Cantor 

Lee Perry 

Panic in Babylon 

Moll-Selekta/Damp Music Records, 2004 

Mike Brooks 

The Earth is the Fullness 
Moll Selekta, 2004 

Jamaican music is a very mysterious thing and the 
give and take between American and Jamaican 
culture has long gone under-appreciated. 
Originally, at the time of the islands' independence 
ska was born from a stew of Motown and jazz and 
the evolution of that music has really changed the 
face of the world. Regardless of what any scholar 





says, rap comes from Jamaica. Nowhere on earth 
was anyone chanting overtop of a record before 
the deejays from the Jamdown. And perhaps even 
more Importantly the island gave fame to Bob 
Marley, who you should consider the most famous 
musician in the world (Elvis who?). While Marley 
is the most easily recognizable, a producer that 
he worked with, Lee Pen^, produced innumerable 
tracks from his Black Ark studio and some of 
his earliest tracks appear here. Mike Brooks, 
falsetto and all, runs through twelve tracks of Jah 
praising material. While the lyrics are bound to 
seem repetitive, at least they have purpose. One 
lyrical standout, "Money" boasts the line, "Money 
buy material things/But good friend is better than 
pocket money". True. Amusing and scientifically 
inaccurate "Good Herb" borrows from Peter 
Tosh in an ode to the collie weed. Regardless of 
the lyrical shortcomings, each track on this slab 
serves up solid rhythms courtesy of Harry J, Lee 
Perry, Prince Far I and others. 

All that Lee Perry has done (helping to create 
a genre and producing The Clash) affords him 
the luxury of a few decades of mediocrity. But 
things are looking up - Lee Perry is here and 
backed by a Swiss reggae trio, The White Belly 
Rats. "Rastafari" begins the whole affair well 
enough. It sounds authentic and Perry ruminates 
on vampires. Title tracks don't always deliver the 
goodness, but "Panic in Babylon" brings a most 
sinister horn line accompanied by Perry's off key 
vocals. Even in this. Perry is proclaiming himself 
an individual. Making forays in other genres 
has not diminished the sense of self that Perry 
possesses. The ridiculous lyrics and a return 
to a more conservative perspective of dub and 
Jamaican music. Perry proclaims his character. He 
no longer needs to be whispered about and joked 
about as a madman. He is Perry; he makes sense 
when the time comes, not consistently. There 
is a song called "I am a Psychiatrist," so I think 
there's an understanding of being self-reflexive. 
The tempo changes on "Are You Coming Home?". 
Textured keyboards support it all while a woman 
tells of a "god in bed" and Perry says it's a night 
"for plugging". A pleasure to listen to. Coming to 
an end, "Devil Dead" sounds off and Pen^ sounds 
most animated yelling about the collie weed It's all 
passionate, its not all good, it's all Perry. Foundling 
label Moll-Selekta gives the world these slabs of 
roots. So far, they're one hundred percent. 
-Dave Cantor 


s/t CD 

Mush, 2004 

Two men, whose names I couldn't pronounce 
and am not gonna type, produce some beats as 
smooth as jello. I don't really know what Down 
Tempo IS. but I'm sure I've had it explained to 
me and no doubt heard it before, but enough 
with the labels. This is ostensibly hip-hop in the 
same way that DJ Krush or Thelvery Corporation 

is and sounds a little like Headset or Daedelus 
save for the uber-electro glitches. Upon further 
research, a neutrino turns out to not be a duo at 
all but any of three electrically neutral subatomic 
particles (any of vanous units of matter below 
the size of an atom, including the elementary 
particles and hadrons) in the lepton family. None 
of which explains the tasteful beats on here. Not 
plain, but unorchestrated, uncluttered. Each track 
repeats itself numerous times, but it doesn't get 
tired. And this really turns out to be a relaxing 
album. Hand drums make a casual, but integral 
appearance on "Mood-D." The organix and even 
slight psychedelics that they bring are counter- 
acted a few tracks latter with "GP" and its' electro 
produced drums. Just tasty licks. Find it and pop 
it in. 
■Dave Cantor 

Rob Sonic 

Telicatessen CD 



Without question the importance of Def Jux will 
only be fully felt in years to come. But truthfully, 
label boss El-P needs to be a little bit more 
particular about what is released with the labels' 
imprint on it. RJD2 and Cannibal Ox are not 
going to be equaled any time soon, but there 
have been a few lackluster outings from the label. 
Fortunately Rob Sonic is not one of these. I refuse 
to say that this is groundbreaking genius, but at 
the same time I will say that from the instant this 
slab began, it was plain ol' good. While Sonic may 
be an intimidating white gentleman, more rhythm 
than melody is emblazoned across track after 
track, something lacking in many hip-hop offerings 
since the end of the daisy age. Even if the drums 
maintain a similar pace throughout and sound 
undeniably electronically produced, they make the 
album and Sonic himself sound close to masterful. 
Telicatessen touches on a number of topics, but 
returns consistently to the claustrophobic nature 
of living on an overpopulated tiny island. Electric 
guitar on "Strange Hammer" begins the event 
that is this slab and continues with some quick 
keyboard maneuvers on "Super Ball." Transitions 
on albums like this are key and a seamless shift 
between "Dyslexia" and "Riot Ender" is impressive 
And if nothing else, the listener can revel in the fact 
that Mr. Sonic loves his mother. 
■Dave Cantor 

Submission Hold 

What Holds Back the Elephant CD 
G7 Welcoming Committee, 2004 

I always get excited when a band I like releases 
a new album. With most bands though, you never 
know what to expect: Will it be their best work to 
date or a hombly watered-down version of the 
music that you've loved for years? With a band like 
Submission Hold I know that everything they do 

just keeps getting better and better. In the past 10 
years their unique, challenging sound continues 
to evolve with each release. This release is no 

Released by the collectively-run G7 Welcoming 
Committee, What Holds... possesses all the 
intensity and beauty that we've come to expect 
from this Vancouver-based quartet while pushing 
the boundaries even further The first track, "Final 
Coup of the Last Millennium" is a timely piece 
inspired by the first time Bush II stole an election. 
As G7's website explains, they express radical 
politics "without resorting to the embarrassingly 
painful and nebulous platitudes that one finds 
oneself continually subjected to these days." 

Although I loved the concept of it, the one 
track that I skip over is "Sealed June 16, 1994." 
Accompanied by a short manifesto (in the insert) 
about the art of improvisation that had been hidden 
in a time capsule, this is itself an improvised song. 
And even if you can't handle Submission Hold's 
genre-transcending sound this album is worth 
picking up for the incredible artwork alone. And 
as always, the lyrics are pnnted in three different 
languages. This is a band that continually refuses 
to be irrelevant. 
-Matt Dineen 

The Flaming Stars 

Named and Shamed CD 
Alternative Tentacles. 2004 

This is the seventh album from The Flaming 
Stars and it's just like all of their others in terms 
of production and packaging: fast, up beat, and 
stripped down to the bare essentials, showcasing 
Max Decharne's thick British vocals and Joe 
Whitney's percussive thrashes, bashes, and hits. 
Recorded at the now legendary Toe Rag 
Studios (where the White Stnpes recorded their 
hit "Elephant"), the entire process took just over 
a week, including initial recording, overdubs, 
backing vocals, effects, and mastering . . . 'Yeah, 
a little over a week. The sound on the disc is like 
a professional basement mix: crystal clear, yet not 
losing any of that "independent" edge They sound 
like Jerry Lee Lewis and Depeche Mode having a 
fight at a Strokes concert. Pretty fucking cool, if 
you ask me. 
-Mike McHone 


The Dune Phase EP 
Gem Blandsten Records 
www gernblandsten com 

Some tracks on this Watchers disc could remind 
one of Dexy's Midnight Runners on an acid tnp, 
and, trust me, that is meant in no disrespect at all 
Following up their critically acclaimed To the 
Rooftops, the Watchers gives us a short, straight 
to the point, sock you in the jaw Extended Play that 
satisfies the melodic palate yet leaves one craving 
more and more; just like a good album should do 

The rhythms on this disc are simply astounding 
and conjures images of late 70s basement punk 
bars, mid '80$ neon lit dance clubs, late 'QOs raves, 
and modern day garage offerings. To accomplish 
that . . . Well, it takes some talent, now doesn't it? 
The E.P. is seven tracks long, two of which are 
alternate takes, and it's well worth the price. 

The Dune Phase: long may it run ... long may 
it run ... 
■Mike McHone 

Year Future 

The Hidden Hand CD 
GSL, 2004 

A great punk rock band demands two responses: 
fists punching defiantly in the air and voices 
singing along thumphantly In three quick salvos. 
Year Future achieve both. The band exude rage 
with thundering, tribal-like rhythms, shimmenng 
delayed-guitar lines, and lyrics shouted like every 
word were the shouter's last. Imagine a modern day 
Birthday Party or Joy Division with Klaus Flouhde 
on guitar. This gives Year Future a distinctive 
sound, which causes some to label them "goth," 
though no band bathed in black ever sounded 
this angry and focused. The lyrics are pointed and 
political, addressing the pharmaceutical industry, 
the economy and suburban Amehca. They can 
be routinely nihilistic: "It never ceases happening 
and nobody can challenge it." Or poetic and open- 
ended: "Inside monkey brains so large they seem 
like empty rooms." But the delivery can turn non- 
believers into devotees. Listen to "Police Yourself," 
the standout cut. The roaring bass line and the 
harsh guitars weave into a perfect discordant 
tapestry and the song's bhdge pounds like the 
band wield jackhammers instead of instruments. 
Above the tempest, vocalist Sonny Kay hollers: 
"Now that they've bought the right to life, they've 
modified your right to food." It's simple, direct 
and relentless. Year Future prove themselves the 
quintessential punk band: they're fearless, snotty 
angry and smart. Let's hope the coming full-length 
lives up to the bar they've raised stratospherically 
high with this release. 
-Casey Boland 


Hotel Rwanda 

United Artists, 2004 

Humble heroes are a modern news cliche. Yet. 
hero is the only word to describe hotel manager 
Paul Rusesabagina who managed to save 1,268 
people in the midst of one of the bloodiest ethnic 
slaughters in recent Afhcan history. Over the 
course of 100 days in 1994, nearly one million 
people were killed in Rwanda - Tutsis and 
moderate Hutus hacked to death by co-workers 
and neighbors. 

Hotel Rwanda tells the true story of 
Rusesabagina - an ethnic Hutu married to a Tutsi 
woman - who managed to transform the luxurious 
Belgian-owned Hotel Mille Collines where he 
worked into a sanctuary, first for his family, 
neighbors and employees, then for a stream of 
refugees. The savvy businessman drew on the 
same mix of bribes and connections to save lives 
as he once used to supply Rwandan generals with 
imported scotch. 

Rusesabagina. who has been speaking to 
audiences at human rights events around the 
county, says that he doesn't really see himself as 
a hero, but as a man who was doing his job, trying 
to create a sense of normality in the madness. 
"Whoever does his job is not a hero," he said, 
dunng an appearance in Seattle recently "unless 
all the people who do their jobs are heroes." 

Hotel Rwanda wasn't intended as a 
documentary (for that I'd recommend Frontline's 
chilling two-hour report Ghosts of Rwanda) and 
the use of simple sound bites and composite 
characters like journalist Jack Daglish (Joaquin 
Phoenix) may frustrate moviegoers. Northern 
Irish director Terry George nails the indifference 
of the Western media and governments to the 
tragedy - Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the 
UN commander in Rwanda and author of Shake 
Hands With the Devil- The Failure of Humanity in 
Rwanda, asked for 5,000 additional troops to stop 
the bloodshed, only to have his forces slashed 
to less than 300 - but overall chooses to keep 
the focus intensely personal with Don Cheadle's 
understated performance as Rusesabagina at the 
films center. 

Very little of the mind-numbing horror we hear 
about appears on screen. In fact, one of the most 
brutal and effective scenes is left completely to 
the viewer's imagination. Red Cross worker Pat 
Archer (Cara Seymour) who had been trying to 
find Rusesabagina's nieces tells him how she was 
forced to watch helplessly as a group of orphans 

are killed. The camera never leaves her face as 
she describes the scene. The last child, she says, 
begged to not to be Tutsi anymore. Filmed in 
South Afhca, a portion of the profits from the film 
go to the Rwanda survivors' fund. 
-Irene Svete 

Against Me! 

We 're Ne ver Going Home DVD 
Fat Wreck Chords 

"I liked Against Me! more when I saw them play 
in the basement of a squat." "I can't believe they 
went on tour with Anti-Flag. That band sucks." 

Those two quotes are the most overheard 
comments made on We're Never Going Home. 
Either way that you look at it, they are not 
compliments. We're Never Going Home chronicles 
a one-month span from April 1 to May 2004 on the 
road with Against Me!, Planes Mistaken for Stars, 
and No Choice. Very quickly, you realize that this is 
more than the documentation of a tour. This goes 
straight to heart, the politics of being in a band: 
not the Red State/Blue State politics that has 
inundated our lives, but the politics of being true 
to yourself, being true to your fans, and debating if 
money is worth signing your life away for. 

Director Jake Burghart leads us on a fascinating 
journey from the D.I.Y. venues and basement 
shows of yore, to the sold out clubs, and angry 
crust kids that will sit outside of the show all night 
refusing to go inside and support the establishment, 
even though it means hurting the band they "love" 
to the major label fat cats that think free drinks will 
earn them respect. 

Besides the documentary, the DVD also 
features performances in whole, a botched video 
commentary, a drinking game, and a drunken 
night in the back of the van with an acoustic guitar 
and a video camera. During the course of the 
documentary. Against Me! were courted by several 
labels, but the focus (and screen time) is hogged 
by Universal Group and Virgin Records. The most 
enlightening part of this DVD is book-ended by 
two very polar moments. The first is provided by 
the employees of their current home. Fat Wreck 
Chords, telling the band that what ever they do, as 
long as it is true to themselves, they have their love 
and support. The second is provided by Universal 
A & R man, Tom MacKaye, completely drunk, 
admitting to trying to steal front man Tom Gabel 
with a solo contract with Universal. Now, whether 
this was true or just good-natured ribbing, doesn't 
matter; it just provides the backdrop of how major 
labels operate, by a lot of bullshit. 
-t.v.'s seth anderson 



with Thomas Barnett of 

Strike Anywhere 




interview by Jason Kucsma 

COMING SOON: future installments of -HERE" will include 
reports from around the world from people like you Drop us a 
line at here@clamormagazine org and tell us about ttie people, 
places, struggles, proiects, or ideas from ttie places you literally 
and metaphorically call 'here.' 

H'e're asking our readers to contribute to our 
"media" issue by telling us when was the first 
moment they realized the beauty power or 
sheer ingenuity of independent media. When 
was yours? 

Back in the day, in the first place would be 
both the zine explosion of the late eighties and 
early nineties with every tiny fractured facet 
of punk subcultures putting out a manifesto 
of clip art, scene stories, complaints, recipes, 
nghteousness and polemic. It felt like everyone 
was finding their voice all at the same, loud and 
pained moment. These were always something 
to look foHA/ard to, whether it was drunk chaos 
punx with beer poetry and old flyer collections, 
or the brilliant hybrid political identities of such 
fascinating punk meccas like IVIinneapolis, 
Berkeley, the Lower East Side, Newport Wales, 
H8000 Belgium, or Richmond, VA. My most 
endunng inspiration from Independent media 
remains that ever inclusive, yet razor focused 
beautiful institution known as Slug and Lettuce. 
When I found my first one, when Christine was 
still up in Manhattan, it was at the zine table 
which accompanied Born Against's first tours. 
After reading it, I felt the feeling that Dick Lucas 
has had for longer than I've been alive "The 
whole fucking planet is a big punk rock !" I was 
hooked for life. 

Would you consider what y'all do with Strike to 
be artistic activism or media activism? Or do you 
not think there is a distinction between the two? 

This is a question I think more bands should 
ask of themselves. I don't know where the 
line is between art and the micro level of 
grassroots media: social observations from 
everyday life. Its better to break it down for us 
like this I imagine. Art 'cause its catharsis and 
expression from the frustrations and injustices 
that define the mediated helplessness of 
modern mainstream life; but. media in the 
same tradition as the substance people have 
always needed to express — with truths they 
don't see from the corporate sponsored trickle 
down of the hyper connected but ever-diluted 
I almost cnnge at the lack of humility exposed 
in the formation of these next thoughts, but, 
at our very best and most focused, I would 
like to think of the punk music philosophy as 
an anarchic descendant of the boxcar folk 
traditions, which has its roots in the Bardic 
and Griot truthseeking institutions of medieval 
Europe and Africa. We (not only my band, 
but the whole counterculture(s)) have to 
acknowledge the duality of our presentation 
and intention, but also the urgency of this 
energy and this direct communication... 

How has the political message of Stnke 
evolved over the pastcouple years'^ Has the 
way you've communicated those messages 
changed as well? 

I think that our eariiest songs may have 
slightly more personal and biographical lyrics, 
although there was always a political direction 
to the delivery and base of ideas. Our lifespan 
as a punk band to date has been during 
overwhelmingly complex and repressive time 
in American history, so It seems that if anything, 
our lyncs and woridview have had to become 
more aggressive, more desperate maybe. Its 
increasingly important to shine light on the 
threads of postive collective action against 
religious bigotry, miltanstic nationalism, and 
selfish impenal economics. The relief and 
clarity, fighting isolation, fabncated fears and 
stupor, are a goddamn necessity in these 
messed up and deceitful times. 

We're in Ohio. Everyone's blaming us for the 
election, though people here have busted 
their asses for a long time to do everything we 
could to swing the election. What do you see 
as the biggest impact another term for Bush 
will have on you as an individual and/or as a 

My personal fears, which I share with millions 
of other Americans for Bush's second term, 
include his code speaking, parallel agendas 
to the religious right. The threat to women's 
reproductive rights, and the further distillation 
of homophobic social and legal culture I fear 
will remain this administration's domestic 
prerogatives. Its hard not to steel yourself 
with ironic self loathing in the face of how 
arrogant and murderous his foreign policy 
will continue to prove itself I hope a grand 
rethinking of our electoral democracy will free 
itself from the rust. Also, a more fluid passage 
of ideas from the deep underground to the 
hollow mainstream might help to demystify 
revolutionary lifestyle and give it the great push 
into the palette of working class ideals. This is 
what could happen to counter the vacuum in 
American life, and act as an antibody to what 
the distortions of evangelical Christianity have 
become to so many. In the battle for identity, 
we need to do our punk values honor and lay 
them at the feet of the world as a gift. I believe 
they will not further dilute , but instead gain a 
strength long deserved Just as each of us did 
by bnefly entenng the mainstream fray - doing 
our best for this convpted democracy in good 
faith for this last election; rocking against 
Bush, youth voter registration, lessering of 
two evils, ad nauseum. We look at it as a 
beginning not a loss or an end it 

Stnke Anywhere recently released To Live 
In Discontent a collection of b-sides and 
outtakes from the last five years, on Jade 
Tree Records For more information, visit 




evil twin boolcing ittJ 



UNDERGROUND screenings can accompany Emergency Film Tour Progam 
w/Sam Green Bill Sieqel Bill speakers air Mark Acfibar multimedia perlormance 

Mia Irleviilution tour 



media 'rer. oot'O" icur w 

w. Mike Bonanno, Andy w. Rick Rowley and & The Church of Stop POLLINATORS TOUR 
Bichlbaum. Patnck Ucht Jacxjueline Soohen Shopping (LIVE'] muifimedla presentaton 

THE TAKE timothy speed levttch we are everywhere SETHTOBOCMAN I 

dir. Naomi Klein and [LIVEI] multimedia presentation [LIVE!] 

Avi Lewis nuilinecia presentation w. author /mdrew stern multimedia presentation 


COMWTTEE w/ directors Michael REBEL MEXICO 

multimedia performance Qalinsky & Suki Hawiey ^ G^eg Berger 

oontestational robotics 

)ration (w.dir. 
the Church of 
(LIVE!)I The Yes Men (LIVE) I Beehive Collective \ Fourth World War 
ather Uhdergrourxt (with Dir. Sam Green. Bill Siegel, and former WUO members 
Bill Avers, Bemardine Dohm, Naomi Jaffe I Mark Rudd, and Laura Whitehorn j 

~ _ . - . _ . — ..j.^ /i |\/p|\ 

pire (with Jino Choi) I Black Rock +more 

Evil Twin Booking workers collective helps to 
bring socially conscious independent films and 
performance artists to botfi small towns and large 
cities. We believe tfiat art and information are for 
the people, and not only for the privileged. Folks 
get in touch with us whien they want to bring any 
of the presentations on our roster to their town: 
We help them figure out how to host an event. 

Normally the task of exhibition is a difficult one for 
an independent mediamaker: Smaller distributors 
and self-distributed projects are often forced to 
compete against well fijnded studios for limited 
amount of space and time in metropolitan art- 
house tiieatres. At Evil Twin Booking we're tiying 
to remedy tiiis problem as many of frie projects 
we deal with are politically oriented and cutting 
edge and need a little mae push. (As subcanin- 
ophiles: we root for the underdog.) 

After years of touring with the Lost Rim Fest and 
numerous bands, Scott Beibin, Liz (Dole and a 
bunch of friends applied tine Do- It- Yourself etiiics 
leamedintine punk rock scene to form a 
collectively run organization that helps bring 
anti-autiioritarian and underground films, 
performers and speakers to unexpected places. 

Evil Twin Booking teaches people how to 
arcumvent the corporate owned media + allow 
challenging films to be shown in settings such as 
theaters, universities, warehouses, activist spaces 
and infoshops, art spaces, cultural gatiierings, 
film festivals, concerts, squats, community centers, 
rooftops, union halls, sti-eet parties, churches, 
synnogogues, mosques, caves, pari<s, alleyways 
etc: We also arrange residencies at institutbns 
for ttie presenters we work witin. 

Wherever independent and conscbus art and 
media is needed, we can be found. 

If you would like to propose a project to us, 
one can submit a proposal using the online form 
at Currentiy we 
are seeking projects representing people of color, 
women, queer and transgender issues, altemat- 
ive fijels, sustainable agriculture+permaculture, 
natural healing and vegan diet. 

Thanks! The Evil Twin Booking Collective: 

Liz Cole, Scott Beibin, Becky Braun, Margit Myers, 
Anne McMillan, John McAvoy, &Jessica Robbins 

www.eviltwinbool( - info@eviltwintiool( - 215.888.1756 









On tour eveiuwhere 
in 2005